Occurrence of deoxynivalenol in an elderly cohort in the UK: a biomonitoring approach

Maria Papageorgiou, Liz Wells, Courtney Williams, Kay L.M. White, Barbara De Santis, Yunru Liu, Francesca Debegnach, Brunella Miano, Giorgio Moretti, Stephanie Greetham, Carlo Brera, Stephen L. Atkin, Laura J. Hardie, Thozhukat Sathyapalan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Deoxynivalenol (DON) is a Fusarium toxin, to which humans are frequently exposed via diet. Although the elderly are speculated to be sensitive to the toxic effects of DON as a result of age-related conditions, disease and altered DON metabolism, there is lack of available data on DON biomarkers in this age group. This study characterised urinary DON concentrations and its metabolites in elderly aged ≥65years (n = 20) residing in Hull, UK. Morning urinary specimens were collected over two consecutive days together with food records to assess dietary intake over a 24h-period prior to each urinary collection. Free DON (un-metabolised), total DON (sum of free DON and DON-glucuronides or DON-GlcA) and de-epoxy deoxynivalenol (DOM-1) were analysed using a validated LC-MS/MS methodology. Total DON above the limit of quantification 0.25 ng/mL was detected in the urine from 90% of elderly men and women on both days. Mean total DON concentrations on day 1 were not different from those on day 2 (elderly men, day 1: 22.2 ± 26.3 ng/mg creatinine (creat), day 2: 28.0 ± 34.4 ng/mg creat, p = 0.95; elderly women, day 1: 22.4 ± 14.6 ng/mg creat, day 2: 29.1 ± 22.8 ng/mg creat, p = 0.58). Free DON and DON-GlcA were detected in 60–70% and 90% of total urine samples, respectively. DOM-1 was absent from all samples; the LoQ for DOM-1 was 0.50 ng/mL. Estimated dietary intake of DON suggested that 10% of the elderly exceeded the maximum provisional tolerable daily intake for DON. In this single-site, UK-based cohort, elderly were frequently exposed to DON, although mean total DON concentrations were reported at moderate levels. Future larger studies are required to investigate DON exposure in elderly from different regions of the UK, but also from different counties worldwide.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2032-2044
Number of pages13
JournalFood Additives and Contaminants - Part A Chemistry, Analysis, Control, Exposure and Risk Assessment
Issue number10
Publication statusPublished - Oct 3 2018


  • biomonitoring
  • deoxynivalenol
  • elderly
  • Fusarium graminearum
  • Mycotoxins

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Food Science
  • Chemistry(all)
  • Toxicology
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Health, Toxicology and Mutagenesis


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