Multi-mycotoxin immunoassay-based testing: research vs. commercial

Abstract  With the comprehensive legislation in many countries and co-existence of mycotoxins in different agricultural commodities and foods, as well as large monitoring and risk assessment programs related to these compounds, finding rapid, easy-to-use, accurate, and cost-effective solutions for multi-mycotoxin detection is of high demand. Therefore, research on multiplexed methods for detection of mycotoxins has rapidly expanded during last several years. This review highlights recent developments in the area of immunochemical multi-mycotoxin testing with the special focus on the solutions which are currently (or were recently) present on the market. The variety of assay formats and methods under investigation is impressive and spans from well-developed and user-friendly lateral-flow and ELISA-based tests to suspension arrays and sophisticated biosensors described so far as a proof-of-concept and prototypes. The main current trends to be met include simplification/ease of use, reduction of time and costs, portability, and, ideally, suitability for point-of-need application. However, in striking contrast to the numerous commercially available single- target tests, only a few multiplexed immunoassays for mycotoxin detection are (were) available on the market. On one hand, this fact reflects the challenges associated with the development and use of multi-mycotoxin tests. On the other hand, the diversity of the reported assays suggests that different solutions are to be found to satisfy the needs for multiplexed mycotoxin detection.   Introduction Since the connection between mycotoxins and disease in animals was first established, concern has been raised over the toxicity of these compounds and the risks they pose to human and animal health. This, in turn, initiated development of methods for their detection. Several issues are worth highlighting with respect to the great demand for (multi)mycotoxin testing: global occurrence of mycotoxins as a major risk factor for human and animal health; economic losses at all levels of food and feed production, processing and distribution; co-occurrence of various mycotoxins in food/feed commodities as well as the increased risk of contamination with several mycotoxins in blends of various (raw) materials in compound feed and food; possible additive and synergistic effects between known and unidentified mycotoxins as well as the possibility of the toxic effect of any single mycotoxin being amplified due to synergistic interactions with other substances (Sergent et al. 2008); masked mycotoxins; legislative limits and recommendations for mycotoxins set for feedstuff and food in different countries (European Commission 2002a, 2006b,c; FAO 2004). Approximately 100 countries have developed specific limits for mycotoxins, while the number of regulated mycotoxins differs for food and feed, e.g. in the US and EU. All countries with mycotoxin regulations have at least regulatory limits for aflatoxin B1 (AFB1) or the sum of aflatoxins B1, B2, G1, and G2 in foods and/or feeds (FAO 2004). Strong need for mycotoxin detection resulted in continued experimentation and improvement in this field. Myriads of methods have been developed so far. New analytical technologies (in particular, from clinical applications) were rapidly incorporated into mycotoxin testing strategies. Most of them are reviewed in several publications mainly elaborating on single-target methods (Anfoss

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