Zearalenone (ZEN) is a mycotoxin produced by Fusarium
fungi. ZEN primarily contaminates different cereals, and exerts a strong xenoestrogenic effect in animals and humans. ZEN is a fluorescent mycotoxin, although molecular interactions and microenvironmental changes significantly modify its spectral properties. During biotransformation, ZEN is converted into α-zearalenol (α-ZOL) and β-zearalenol (β-ZOL), the toxic metabolites of ZEN, which mimick the effect of estrogen. Cyclodextrins (CDs) are host molecules, and have been studied extensively; they can form stable complexes with several mycotoxins, including ZEN. However, information is limited regarding the interactions of CDs with ZOLs. Therefore, we studied the interactions of α- and β-ZOLs with native and six chemically modified β-CDs by fluorescence spectroscopy. Fluorescence enhancement during complex formation, as well as binding constants, were determined. To understand ZOL-CD interactions better, molecular modeling studies were also carried out. Both mycotoxin derivatives formed the most stable complexes with methylated and sulfobutylated CD-derivatives; however, the CD complexes of α-ZOL were significantly stronger than those of β-ZOL. The data presented here indicate which of the chemically modified β-CDs appear more suitable as fluorescence enhancers or as potential mycotoxin binders.
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