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This is the first report of the natural coexistence of a group of Fusarium mycotoxins (nivalenol [NIV], deoxynivalenol [DON], 3-acetyl-deoxynivalenol [3-ADON], 15-acetyl-deoxynivalenol [15-ADON], and zearalenone [ZEN]) in corn from Linxian, China, an area with a high risk of esophageal cancer. Using thin layer chromatography (TLC), high pressure liquid chromatography (HPLC), and gas chromatography (GC), 107 corn samples from Linxian were analyzed. The average levels of NIV and DON were 757 +/- 707 (54-2,760) ng/g and 5,376 +/- 4,460 (360-12,670) ng/g, respectively, with 100% positivity in 24 corn samples consumed as staple food by esophageal cancer patients and their families. Other corn samples collected from five villages in Linxian at different seasons in 1984-1986 also revealed high levels of NIV and DON contamination, with 100% positivity, suggesting that they are consistently and widely present in corn in that area. Levels of 3-ADON and 15-ADON in Linxian corn were 113 +/- 57 and 495 +/- 538 ng/g, respectively. Crude extracts of corn samples collected from esophageal cancer patients' families and the HPLC-purified NIV and DON fractions induced significant chromosome aberrations in V79 cells. Pure toxins of NIV, DON, T-2, and 3-ADON also induced chromosome aberrations in V79 cells at very low concentrations (ng levels/ml medium). Cytotoxic effects were observed at slightly higher concentrations. The levels and kinds of trichothecenes were in positive co-relation with the incidence of esophageal cancer. The data suggest that trichothecenes in food may possibly be associated with esophagitis and esophageal cancer in Linxian.


Journal article


Cancer detection and prevention

Publication Date





79 - 86


Department of Pathology, Chinese Academy of Medical Sciences, Beijing.


Humans, Fusarium, Zea mays, Esophageal Neoplasms, Sesquiterpenes, Trichothecenes, Zearalenone, Resorcinols, Mycotoxins, Mutagenicity Tests, Dose-Response Relationship, Drug, China