Deoxynivalenol (DON) is a mycotoxin mainly produced by Fusarium graminearum
that can contaminate cereals and cereal-based foodstuff. Urinary DON levels can be used as biomarker for exposure assessment purposes. This study assessed urinary DON concentrations in Italian volunteers recruited by age group, namely children, adolescents, adults, and the elderly. In addition, vulnerable groups, namely vegetarians and pregnant women, were included in the study. To determine the urinary DON, its glucuronide and de-epoxydated (DOM-1) forms, an indirect analytical approach was used, measuring free DON and total DON (as sum of free and glucuronides forms), before and after enzymatic treatment, respectively. Morning urine samples were collected on two consecutive days, from six different population groups, namely children, adolescent, adults, elderly, vegetarians and pregnant women. Total DON was measured in the 76% of the collected samples with the maximum incidences in children and adolescent age group. Urine samples from children and adolescent also showed the highest total DON levels, up to 17.0 ng/mgcreat
. Pregnant women had the lowest positive samples per category (40% for day 1 and 43% for day 2, respectively), low mean levels of total DON (down to 2.84 ng/mgcreat
) and median equal to 0 ng/mgcreat
. Estimation of DON dietary intake reveals that 7.5% of the total population exceeds the TDI of 1 μg/kg bw/day set for DON, with children showing 40% of individuals surpassing this value (male, day 2).
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