Toxicity Screening of Fungal Extracts and Metabolites, Xenobiotic Chemicals, and Indoor Dusts with In Vitro and Ex Vivo Bioassay Methods

Tuomas Hintikka*, Aino Andersson, Taina Lundell, Tamás Marik, Laszlo Kredics, Raimo Mikkola, Magnus C. Andersson, Jarek Kurnitski, Heidi Salonen

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

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It is controversial how useful bioassays are for identifying the in vivo toxicity of hazardous environmental exposures. In this study, fruiting bodies of forest mushrooms (n = 46), indoor mold colonies (n = 412), fungal secondary metabolites (n = 18), xenobiotic chemicals such as biocides and detergents (n = 6), and methanol extracts of indoor dusts from urban buildings (n = 26) were screened with two different bioactivity assays: boar sperm motility inhibition (BSMI) and inhibition of cell proliferation (ICP) tests. For the forest mushrooms, the toxicity testing result was positive for 100% of poisonous-classified species, 69% of non-edible-classified species, and 18% of edible-classified species. Colonies of 21 isolates of Ascomycota mold fungal species previously isolated from water-damaged buildings proved to be toxic in the tests. Out of the fungal metabolites and xenobiotic chemicals, 94% and 100% were toxic, respectively. Out of the indoor dusts from moldy-classified houses (n = 12) and from dry, mold-free houses (n = 14), 50% and 57% were toxic, respectively. The bioassay tests, however, could not differentiate the samples from indoor dusts of moldy-classified buildings from those from the mold-free buildings. Xenobiotic chemicals and indoor dusts were more toxic in the BSMI assay than in the ICP assay, whereas the opposite results were obtained with the Ascomycota mold colonies and fungal secondary metabolites. The tests recognized unknown methanol-soluble thermoresistant substances in indoor settled dusts. Toxic indoor dusts may indicate a harmful exposure, regardless of whether the toxicity is due to xenobiotic chemicals or microbial metabolites.
Original languageEnglish
Article number217
Number of pages23
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2024
MoE publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed


  • Ascomycetes
  • Basidiomycetes
  • Boar sperm motility inhibition assay
  • bioassays
  • biocides
  • detergents
  • fungal metabolites
  • indoor settled dust
  • inhibition of cell proliferation assay


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