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Cyclopiazonic Acid

Cyclopiazonic acid (CPA) is a mycotoxin produced by strains of Penicillium and Aspergillus like P. cyclopiumP. patulumP. viridicatumP. crustosumP. camembertiA. flavusA. versicolorA. tamarii.2, 4 The chemical structure resembles the indole teramic acid, and is a relatively stable compound that tolerates a broad range of temperatures from -20°C to 240-242°C.2, 3 CPA is insoluble in water, but soluble in other solvents like ethanol and dimethyl sulfoxide (DMSO).2, 3

CPA was observed for the first time in the USA where it was detected in corn samples coming from both field and storage.4 This evidence suggests that the mycotoxin is produced in the field and persists during storage, and likely the conditions for the formation of CPA are similar to the ones for the formation of aflatoxin.1, 4 CPA production has been observed in a broad range of grain and nut commodities including peanuts, sunflower seeds, and in cheese.3, 4, 5 CPA co-occurs with other mycotoxins such as aflatoxins, ochratoxin A, patulin, citrinin and zearalenone.3, 4 Synergistic effects of CPA with those other mycotoxins, e.g. aflatoxins, may occur.​ Most of the commodities where CPA was observed had evidence of mold damage, but this might not always be the case e.g. when the mycotoxin is produced by A. flavus.4 As a general guideline, storage of grain at humidity lower than 14% is recommended to avoid mold formation. Furthermore, presence of condensation in the storage facility should be avoided.4


CPA’s primary effects are the impairment of the calcium metabolism that usually leads to damages to the neural system.2, 3 CPA has an inhibitory effect on the endoplasmatic and sarcoplasmatic reticulum Ca2+-dependent ATPase which mediates the normal intracellular calcium flux​.2, 3 In addition to neurotoxic effects, this metabolic disruption leads to immunomodulatory and immunosuppressive effects.1, 2, 3, 5 Necrosis of liver, gastrointestinal tissue, kidneys, heart and skeletal muscles have also been reported. CPA has implications in the promotion of carcinogenic effects in birds, specifically pathological changes in spleen and bursa Fabricii.1, 2, 3, 5 In broilers this mycotoxin can also cause ulcers in the mouth and gizzard.

The presence of CPA and aflatoxins in maize and peanuts contaminated with A. flavus suggests that synergism may occur.​​


No regulation or guideline currently exists for CPA in the EU or USA.

  1. Betina V. (1989) Mycotoxins Chemical, Biological and Environmental Aspects. Bioactive Molecules (9) 174-191.
  2. Bryden W.L. (2008). Cyclopiazonic acid occurrence and toxicity in farm animals. Mycotoxins in farm Animals (2008) 219-234.
  3. Keblys M., Bernhoft A., Höfer C.C., Morrison E., Jørgen H., Larsen S., Flåøyen A. (2004). The effects of the Penicillium mycotoxins citrinin, cyclopiazonic acid, ochratoxin A, patulin, penicillic acid, and roquefortine C on in vitro proliferation of porcine lymphocytes. Mycopathologia (158) 317–324.
  4. Krska R., Nährer K., Richard J. L., Rodrigues I., Schuhmacher R., Slate A. B., Whitaker T. B., (2012). Guide to Mycotoxins featuring Mycotoxin Risk Management in Animal Production. BIOMIN edition 2012.
  5. Marin S., Ramos A.J., Cano-Sancho G., Sanchis V., (2013). Mycotoxins: Occurrence, toxicology, and exposure assessment. Food and Chemical Toxicology (60) 218-237.