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Mycotoxins can lead to states of immunodepression, which may facilitate opportunistic infections (such as by Non Tuberculous Mycobacteria) and cancers.
Dendritic cells (DC) are the most important controllers of acquired immunity.
Many mycotoxins block their maturation. This directly and undirectly induces a cascade of blockades that leads to:
- A Th1 to Th2 switch
- An increased transformation of naive CD4+ T cells into CD4+ CD25+ TREGs (T regulatory cells). These cells, known for their protective role against auto-immune disease, and in graft tolerance, can explain when they increase, loss of humoral immune protection against infectious agents, and against neo-antigens (such as oncogens)
Sterigmatocystin upregulates ( Miller 2010) IL10 gene transcription and expression; Il10 ( Cope, 2011) enhances Th1 to Th2 switch, and directly inhibits Interferon gamma.