The effects of trichothecene mycotoxins on the immune system of animals have gained much attention recently. Although the trichothecene mycotoxins comprise a large group, only several of its members have been specifically investigated with regard to immunotoxicity. T-2 toxin, fusarenon-X, diacetoxyscirpenol (DAS, anguidine), and deoxynivalenol (DON, vomitoxin) are among those specifically evaluated as immunotoxic compounds. Animal models to date have included poultry, mouse, rat, guinea pig, rabbit, cattle, sheep, swine, cat, and monkey. Much of the information concerning trichothecene-associated immunotoxic effects has been gleaned from studies which include observations on peripheral blood leukocyte counts and histologic changes in lymphoid tissues. Research efforts have also been directed toward understanding both antibody production and cell-mediated immunity following exposure to the toxins. Assessment of mitogenic responses, T-dependent and T-independent antibody production, delayed-type hypersensitivity responses, graft rejection, characterization of cell phenotypes, and the effects of toxin exposure on bacterial, viral, and yeast infections have been investigated. It is clear that the trichothecene mycotoxins suppress the immune network, but the specific functions of various cell type(s) affected by trichothecene mycotoxins have yet to be definitively ascertained. Figure 1 summarizes the possible effects of trichothecene mycotoxin exposure on the immune function.
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