Coordination of mycotoxins with lanthanides in luminescent complexes

  • Md Zakir Hossain
  • Chris M. MaragosEmail author
Original Article


The ability of several chelating mycotoxins to form coordination complexes with the lanthanide metals europium and terbium was explored. The mycotoxins examined included ochratoxin A, citrinin, cyclopiazonic acid (CPA), kojic acid, and tenuazonic acid (TeA). Of these compounds, TeA and CPA resulted in the greatest luminescence. Parameters influencing luminescence of TeA were investigated further. These included the type of lanthanide and its concentration, certain environmental factors, and the effect of competing metal cations. Of the two lanthanide metals, the terbium coordination complex (TeA-Tb3+) showed greater luminescence relative to the europium complex (TeA-Eu3+). The effects of solvent type, water content, and pH on the TeA-Tb3+ system suggested that optimal conditions for luminescence were in 90% methanol with 10% aqueous buffer at pH 3. In competitive assays, the luminescence of the TeA-Tb3+ complex decreased as the concentration of competing metal cations increased. Among the cations tested, Cu2+ was the best inhibitor followed by Al3+, Au3+, Fe3+, Co2+, Mn2+, Mg2+, and Ca2+. Two cations, Na+ and K+, showed no significant inhibition. This is the first report to describe the coordination of the metal-chelating mycotoxin TeA with lanthanides and the ability of TeA to serve as an “antenna” for the efficient transfer of energy to the lanthanide with resulting luminescence. Understanding the ability of mycotoxins such as TeA to chelate metals provides insight into how they exert their toxic effects.


Mycotoxins Lanthanides Luminescent complexes 



This work was supported by USDA-ARS project number 5010-42000-0049-00D. This research was supported in part by an appointment to the Agricultural Research Service (ARS) Research Participation Program, administered by the Oak Ridge Institute for Science and Education (ORISE) through an interagency agreement between the US Department of Energy (DOE) and the USDA. ORISE is managed by ORAU under DOE contract number DE-SC0014664.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.


The mention of trade names or commercial products in this publication is solely for the purpose of providing specific information and does not imply recommendation or endorsement by the US Department of Agriculture. The USDA is an equal opportunity provider and employer. All opinions expressed are the author’s and do not necessarily reflect the policies and views of USDA, ARS, DOE, or ORAU/ORISE.

Supplementary material

12550_2019_356_Fig9_ESM.png (318 kb)
Supplementary Fig. 1

Absorbance spectra of TeA, CPA, OTA, CIT and KA. Absorbance maxima were observed for TeA, CPA, OTA, CIT and KA at 277, 280, 329,320 and 268 respectively. (PNG 318 kb)

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High resolution image (TIF 1175 kb)
12550_2019_356_Fig10_ESM.png (462 kb)
Supplementary Fig. 2

Excitation and emission spectra of TeA, CPA, OTA, CIT and KA in the presence of Tb3+. The concentration of TeA, CPA, CIT and KA were 30 μM and the concentration of OTA was 15 μM. The Tb3+ concentration was 0.5 μM. (A) Excitation spectra collected at the emission maxima of each individual toxin. (B) Emission spectra collected at the excitation maxima of each individual toxin. For example, for OTA the excitation and emission maxima were at 333 nm and 460 nm respectively. (PNG 461 kb)

12550_2019_356_MOESM2_ESM.tif (1.6 mb)
High resolution image (TIF 1636 kb)


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Copyright information

© This is a U.S. Government work and not under copyright protection in the US; foreign copyright protection may apply 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Mycotoxin Prevention and Applied Microbiology Research Unit, Agricultural Research Service, US Department of AgricultureNational Center for Agricultural Utilization ResearchPeoriaUSA

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