Zearalenone (ZEA) is a macrocyclic β-resorcylic acid lactone produced by numerous species of Fusarium. It frequently contaminates corn and cereal products in many regions of the world. The biological activity of ZEA is dominated by its pronounced oestrogenicity, which is even enhanced in certain reductive metabolites. This review updates the metabolism in fungi, plants and mammalian systems, as well as the pharmacokinetics of ZEA. The present evidence for the hormonal effects of the parent mycoestrogen and some of its metabolites in vitro and in farm and experimental animals in vivo is reviewed, together with its association with endocrine-disruptive effects in humans. Possible mechanisms of the oestrogenic and carcinogenic activity of ZEA are discussed and future areas of research proposed.
Metzler, M., Pfeiffer, E., & Hildebrand, A. (2010). Zearalenone and its metabolites as endocrine disrupting chemicals. World Mycotoxin Journal, 3(4), 385–401. https://doi.org/10.3920/wmj2010.1244