PloS one

Natural Occurrence of Alternaria Toxins in Wheat-Based Products and Their Dietary Exposure in China.

PMID 26121047


A total of 181 wheat flour and 142 wheat-based foods including dried noodle, steamed bread and bread collected in China were analyzed for alternariol (AOH), alternariol monomethyl ether (AME), tentoxin (TEN) and tenuazonic acid (TeA) by ultra-performance liquid chromatography-electrospray ionization-tandem mass spectrometry. TeA was the predominant toxin found in 99.4% wheat flour samples at levels ranging from 1.76 μg/kg to 520 μg/kg. TEN was another Alternaria toxin frequently detected in wheat flour samples (97.2%) at levels between 2.72 μg/kg and 129 μg/kg. AOH and AME were detected in 11 (6.1%) samples at levels ranging from 16.0 μg/kg to 98.7 μg/kg (AOH) and in 165 (91.2%) samples with a range between 0.320 μg/kg and 61.8 μg/kg (AME). AOH was quantified at higher levels than AME with the ratio of AOH/AME ranging from 1.0 to 3.7. Significant linear regressions of correlation in toxin concentrations were observed between AOH and AME, AME and TeA, TEN and TeA, AOH+AME and TeA. At an average and 95th percentile, dietary exposure to AOH and AME in the Chinese general population and different age subgroups exceeded the relevant threshold value of toxicological concern (TTC), with the highest exposure found in children which deserves human health concern. TEN and TeA seem unlikely to be health concerns for the Chinese via wheat-based products but attention should be paid to synergistic or additive effects of TeA with AOH, AME, TEN and a further assessment will be performed once more data on toxicity-guided fractionation of the four toxins are available. It is necessary to conduct a systemic surveillance of Alternaria toxins in raw and processed foods in order to provide the scientific basis for making regulations on these toxins in China.