Impact of early-life multi-mycotoxin exposure on B cells epigenetic profile and infection by oncogenic viruses: unravelling interaction with immune-regulatory cytokines profiles & co-infections in young children

01 January 2021 → 31 December 2024
Research Foundation - Flanders (FWO)
Research disciplines
  • Medical and health sciences
    • Mycology
    • Cancer prevention
    • Environmental health and safety
    • Applied immunology
    • Pediatrics
mycotoxins oncogenic virus Eppstein-Barr Sub-Sahara Africa early-life exposure
Project description

Oncogenic viruses play an essential role in carcinogenesis. Chronic dietary intakes of multiple mycotoxins are hypothesized to be associated and interact with these viruses to enhance the risk of developing juvenile carcinomas. In this proposal we focus on infection by the Eppstein-Barr virus (EBV), which is linked to childhood Burkitt’s lymphoma, and endemic in parts of sub-Saharan Africa, where EBV and chronic mycotoxin exposure co-exist. Our pilot research has shown that mycotoxin exposure stimulates infection by different pathogens, including EBV. We aim to gain insight into this process by focusing on the impact of early-life chronic mycotoxin exposure on childhood immune response to EBV. We will validate our results and assess the interaction between EBV and mycotoxin exposure by using a unique child-cohort in Burkina Faso (n=1,000). We will investigate the interaction between mycotoxins and EBV on the development of Burkitt's lymphoma in this cohort. Mechanistic evidence will be provided by integrating epigenetic mechanisms, mycotoxin exposure and viral infection (EBV) with cytokine profiling in the children’s blood. In addition, we will focus on deciphering mechanistic pathways (epigenetics) through which mycotoxin exposure enhances EBV infection and activation using established in vitro and animal models. This unique and innovative research proposal will provide solid evidence, consequently becoming a basis for future cancer prevention measures.