Print E-mail



Formula and some data: FUMONISIN B1


CAS N° [116355-83-0]
Formula : C34H59NO15
molecular weight : 721,83 amu
white hydroscopic powder
analysed after derivatisation with LC-Fluo or as such with LC-MS

ELEM (horse) = 29.7 mg/kg bw
TDI (provisional) = 2 µg/kg bw


Fumonisins are a group of at least 15 closely related mycotoxins. The most important is Fumonisin B1 (FB1). They are frequently found in maize, but their occurrence has been reported also in beans, rice, wheat noodles, curry, chilli pickle and beer. They are polar mycotoxins produced by several Fusarium species such as F. verticillioides and F. proliferatum. Their chemical structures are based on a long hydroxylated hydrocarbon chain, bearing methyl and amino groups. Two hydroxyl groups are esterified with propane-1, 2, 3-tricarboxylic acids. Fumonisin B2 has no extra hydroxyl group at position 10, compared to fumonisin B1.
FumonisinsFumonisins are insoluble in many organic solvents as chloroform and hexane, explaining the difficulties in their detection although their effects on horses have been known for more than 100 years.


Fumonisins are known to be toxic for horses and related species (Marasas et al, 1988) : they cause often a fatal disease called leucoencephalomalacia (ELEM). The animals lose appetite, become lethargic and develop neurotoxic symptoms. Their brains show oedema and liquefaction in the cerebral hemispheres. Also their liver is affected, with sometimes gross liver lesions. In pigs, fumonisins induce pulmonary edema (PPE) and hydrothorax, whereby the thorax is filled with a yellow liquid (Kriek et al, 1981).


FB1 in cereals was associated with high rates of human esophageal cancer in Africa, northern Italy, Iran, Southeastern USA and with liver cancer in certain areas of China (Yazar and Omurtag, 2008). The International Agency for Research on Cancer has classified the fumonisins in group 2B (probably carcinogenic).


Their toxicity is mainly explained by their effect on sphingolipid synthesis. Fumonisins structurally resemble sphingoid bases such as sphingosine and inhibit the ceramide synthetase which results in a change in the ratio sphinganine/sphingosine (Sa/So) (Soriano et al, 2005). This ratio change can be considered as a biomarker for fumonisin exposure.


In some heat or alkali-processed maize food, fumonisins bind to the protein fraction, resulting in bound or masked FUM's, which are not easily detected by the regular analysis methods (Dall'Asta et al, 2008).

NORMS ET LEGISLATION (maximal allowed levels in feed and food) :Fumonisins

Maximum levels in maize and maize products (foodstuffs)
COMMISSION REGULATION (2007/1126/EC) of 28 September 2007 amending Regulation (EC) No 1881/2006 setting maximum levels for certain contaminants in foodstuffs as regards Fusarium toxins in maize and maize products.

Prevention and reduction in cereals and cereal products
COMMISSION RECOMMENDATION (2006/583/EC) of 17 August 2006 on the prevention and reduction of Fusarium toxins in cereals and cereal products

Maximum levels in animal feed

COMMISSION RECOMMENDATION (2006/576/EC) of 17 August 2006 on the presence of deoxynivalenol, zearalenone, ochratoxin A, T-2 and HT-2 and fumonisins in products intended for animal feeding

Tolerable daily intake
COMMISSION REGULATION (EC) No 856/2005 of 6 June 2005 amending Regulation (EC) No 466/2001 as regards Fusarium toxins



CODA-CERVA is developing LC-MS methods for the quantification of FB1 and FB2 in animal matrices, food and feed.


Jorina Geys
Alfons Callebaut