Deoxynivalenol (DON) and Zearalenone (ZEN) are two commonly co-occurring mycotoxins produced by members of the genus Fusarium
. As important food chain contaminants, these can adversely affect both human and animal health. Critically, as they are formed prior to harvesting, their occurrence cannot be eliminated during food production, leading to ongoing contamination challenges. DON is one of the most commonly occurring mycotoxins and is found as a contaminant of cereal grains that are consumed by humans and animals. Consumption of DON-contaminated feed can result in vomiting, diarrhoea, refusal of feed, and reduced weight gain in animals. ZEN is an oestrogenic mycotoxin that has been shown to have a negative effect on the reproductive function of animals. Individually, their mode of action and impacts have been well-studied; however, their co-occurrence is less well understood. This common co-occurrence of DON and ZEN makes it a critical issue for the Agri-Food industry, with a fundamental understanding required to develop mitigation strategies. To address this issue, in this targeted review, we appraise what is known of the mechanisms of action of DON and ZEN with particular attention to studies that have assessed their toxic effects when present together. We demonstrate that parameters that impact toxicity include species and cell type, relative concentration, exposure time and administration methods, and we highlight additional research required to further elucidate mechanisms of action and mitigation strategies.
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