Health Effects of Moldy Buildings – Immune System Issues



This page lists medical journal articles discussing the relationship between immune system issues and moldy buildings.

The Health Effects of Moldy Buildings page of the Paradigm Change site provides further information on this topic.


Conti P, Tettamanti L, Mastrangelo F, Ronconi G, Frydas I, Kritas SK, Caraffa A, Pandolfi F. Impact of Fungi on Immune Responses. Clin Ther. 2018 Jun;40(6):885-888. PMID: 29752039

Spores and fungal fragments found in indoor and outdoor environments originate from opportunistic fungi and they can contribute to inflammatory responses, causing a broad range of symptoms. Papers were selected and reviewed with an emphasis on the molecular mechanisms involved in the effect of fungi on immune cells, especially mast cells (MCs).


Edmondson DA, Barrios CS, Brasel TL, Straus DC, Kurup VP, Fink JN. Immune response among patients exposed to molds. Int J Mol Sci. 2009 Dec 21;10(12):5471-84. PMID: 20054481

Macrocyclic trichothecenes, mycotoxins produced by Stachybotrys chartarum, have been implicated in adverse reactions in individuals exposed to mold-contaminated environments. Cellular and humoral immune responses and the presence of trichothecenes were evaluated in patients with mold-related health complaints. Patients underwent history, physical examination, skin prick/puncture tests with mold extracts, immunological evaluations and their sera were analyzed for trichothecenes. T-cell proliferation, macrocyclic trichothecenes, and mold specific IgG and IgA levels were not significantly different than controls; however 70% of the patients had positive skin tests to molds.


Tammer B, Lehmann I, Nieber K, Altenburger R. Combined effects of mycotoxin mixtures on human T cell function. Toxicol Lett. 2007 Apr 25;170(2):124-33. PMID: 17400410

Combined effects of mycotoxin mixtures are of major concern due to the widespread occurrence of human exposure to mixtures. Owing to the lack of sufficient mixture data regarding the human immune function, the aim of this study was to specify, evaluate and predict the combined effects of mycotoxin mixtures upon the functional activity of immune cells. Therefore, a well established model for immunotoxic studies using stimulated human peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMC) was applied. To predict the combined effect of the mixture the concepts of concentration addition and response addition were used. Comparable to the individual mycotoxins the mixture suppressed the cytokine production in a concentration-dependent manner. The mixture effect was stronger than the effects caused by the toxins applied singly.


Gray MR, Thrasher JD, Crago R, Madison RA, Arnold L, Campbell AW, Vojdani A. Mixed mold mycotoxicosis: immunological changes in humans following exposure in water-damaged buildings. Arch Environ Health. 2003 Jul;58(7):410-20. PMID: 15143854

The study described was part of a larger multicenter investigation of patients with multiple health complaints attributable to confirmed exposure to mixed-molds infestation in water-damaged buildings. A total of 209 adults were examined and tested. The molds-exposed patients reported a greater frequency and intensity of symptoms, particularly neurological and inflammatory symptoms, when compared with controls. The percentages of exposed individuals with increased lymphocyte phenotypes were: B cells (CD20+), 75.6%; CD5+CD25+, 68.9%; CD3+CD26+, 91.2%; CD8+HLR-DR+, 62%; and CD8+CD38+, 56.6%; whereas other phenotypes were decreased: CD8+CD11b+, 15.6% and CD3-CD16+CD56+, 38.5%. Mitogenesis to phytohemagglutinin was decreased in 26.2% of the exposed patients, but only 5.9% had decreased response to concanavalin A. Abnormally high levels of ANA, ASM, and CNS myelin (immunoglobulins [Ig]G, IgM, IgA) and PNS myelin (IgG, IgM, IgA) were found. The authors conclude that exposure to mixed molds and their associated mycotoxins in water-damaged buildings leads to multiple health problems involving the CNS and the immune system, in addition to pulmonary effects and allergies. Mold exposure also initiates inflammatory processes.


Anyanwu E, Campbell AW, Jones J, Ehiri JE, Akpan AI. The neurological significance of abnormal natural killer cell activity in chronic toxigenic mold exposures. Scientific World Journal. 2003 Nov 13;3:1128-37. PMID: 14625399

This paper presents an overview of the neurological significance of abnormal natural killer cell (NKC) activity in chronic toxigenic mold exposure. In the light of this review, it is concluded that chronic exposures to toxigenic mold could lead to abnormal NKC activity with a wide range of neurological consequences, some of which were headache, general debilitating pains, fever, cough, memory loss, depression, mood swings, sleep disturbances, anxiety, chronic fatigue, and seizures.


Bondy GS, Pestka JJ. Immunomodulation by fungal toxins. J Toxicol Environ Health B Crit Rev. 2000 Apr-Jun;3(2):109-43. PMID: 10834078

The availability of immunotoxicity data for fungal toxins varies considerably for different toxins. This is a comprehensive review of the most recent literature on the immunotoxicity of aflatoxins, fumonisins, gliotoxin, ochratoxins, patulin, and trichothecenes.


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