ZEA: A New Marker In Tests

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Hello again, readers! Today, I have a great announcement: we are introducing a new marker into two of our tests. The new marker is for Zearalenone (ZEA), a mycotoxin that is mainly produced by Fusarium fungi. ZEA is now a part of both the clinical urine mycotoxin test and the home EMMA (Environmental Mold and Mycotoxin Assessment) test. 

Why ZEA is important

We are extremely happy to be able to add ZEA to the aforementioned tests. We feel that doing so will be very useful for both our patients and practitioners. As I wrote in a paper published last year, ZEA is one of the four most common mycotoxins(1). Zearalenone has a strong affinity towards the estrogen receptor, which can lead to increased activation of the receptor in the human body. And this activation can contribute to multiple reproductive disorders, such as low sperm count, abnormal levels of progesterone, disruption of ovulation, infrequent menstrual periods, reduced birth weight, and an increased risk of fetal death (2). 

ZEA can also harm to the intestinal tract. ZEA may decrease the integrity of the cells that form the intestinal barrier, which can lead to a phenomenon known as “leaky gut.” ZEA also has a negative effect on the microbiota in the gut, and patients with high ZEA levels typically have decreased microbial diversity in their gut, which can—in turn—lead to a variety of problems. And lastly, ZEA has been shown to cause enhanced proliferation of colon carcinoma cell lines. ZEA down-regulates the expression of tumor-suppressor genes in intestinal cells, which could lead to a higher risk of cancer (3). 

WHY ELISA is the best way to measure ZEA

As I’ve written previously, mycotoxins are highly modified in order to detox them from the body (4). ZEA is modified to make about 17 different endpoint molecules that are excreted from the body (4) (see figure). These modifications, and others like them, are performed by the body to change the molecular mass of the molecules. These changes make it difficult to create a LC/MS instrument to pick up all of these molecules, as the instrument would have to be trained (tuned) to identify every single metabolite. Because there are no commercial sources for most of the metabolites, this kind of training is almost impossible.

That is why, when it comes to measuring mycotoxins, our methods are superior to traditional LC/MS. We can develop antibodies through our patented system, which can see all of the different metabolites. And using our technology, we are able to potentially see multiple different metabolites with a single antibody. Some might argue that these metabolites aren’t significant. However, we know that that’s incorrect; many of the mycotoxin metabolites are actually more harmful than their parents. In ZEA’s case, the reduced form, known as zearelanol, is even more estrogenic than its parent molecule (5). Another example is Aflatoxin. While some LC/MS tests look at the M1 form, the B1 form is much more toxic and carcinogenic (6). 

New Report

Additionally, we are now including percentiles in our mycotoxin reports. We will first add the percentiles to the urine mycotoxin reports, and once we have enough statistics for ZEA on home samples, we’ll add them to the EMMA reports, as well. We have added the 25th, 50th, and 95th percentiles onto our tests, too, in order to help patients and practitioners understand where a person’s results fall on the spectrum. Please see the new report below. 

At RTL, we all feel that these changes will help the community. Being able to detect ZEA with our tests will increase healthcare practitioners’ insight into their patients’ chronic health issues, and the report format changes will make the data easier to interpret. If you have any questions about what to expect from here on out, please feel free to contact us. And always remember that we offer free consultations with our tests!

1. M. Pratt-Hyatt, W. Shaw, Biochemical Markers in teh Urine Associated with Gastrointestinal Mold-overgrowth Are Linked with Elevated Urinary Mycotoxins in Patients with Suspected Mold Illness. The Townsend Letter, 31-38 (2019).

2. J. Fink-Gremmels, Mycotoxins: their implications for human and animal health. Vet Q 21, 115-120 (1999).

3. W. P. Liew, S. Mohd-Redzwan, Mycotoxin: Its Impact on Gut Health and Microbiota. Front Cell Infect Microbiol 8, 60 (2018).

4. A. Rogowska et al., A study of zearalenone biosorption and metabolisation by prokaryotic and eukaryotic cells. Toxicon 169, 81-90 (2019).

5. E. Hodge, P. Hidy, H. Wehrmeister, USA, Ed. (1966), vol. US Patent 3239345.

6. B. R. Rushing, M. I. Selim, Aflatoxin B1: A review on metabolism, toxicity, occurrence in food, occupational exposure, and detoxification methods. Food Chem Toxicol 124, 81-100 (2019).

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