Mold & Environmental Illness
......with Lisa Nagy M.D.
Lisa Lavine Nagy M.D. graduated Magna Cum Laude from The University of Pennsylvania and then from Cornell Medical College in 1986. After a surgical internship she completed Emergency Medicine residency at Metropolitan Hospital in NYC and practiced in Los Angeles until becoming severely ill (Addison’s Disease, Mitochondrial Myopathy, Dysautonomia) –as a result of a complex medical condition known as Chemical Sensitivity or Environmental Illness.
Her story of survival and journey of discovery which led her to determine what had made her have such severe symptoms inspired ABC’s ‘Nightline’ to interview her this year and many newspapers and magazines to feature her recovery. In her case it was due to toxic mold and in others it is due to pesticide or chemical exposure. She learned about the field of Environmental Medicine and it’s focus on finding the causes of disease including genetic, hormonal, nutritional, allergic, and environmental factors.
She is now president of Preventive and Environmental Health Alliance which is a group focused on educating medical students, doctors, the AMA, congress and the public and assists patients to find help nationwide. Listening to physicians and other people who have developed severe Environmental Illness is the first step towards helping the 75 million people in the country with various health issues, including autoimmunity, related to their environments. Her website is www.EnvironmentalMedicineInfo.com
Tuesday, July 14th, 2009:
Neurological and Immunological Problems associated with Mold and Mycotoxin Exposure
(Ed): Below is a selection of research papers highlighting the effects of exposure to mold on the nervous and immune systems which Dr. Nagy feels are important.
Arch Environ Health. 2003 Aug;58(8):464-74.
Neural autoantibodies and neurophysiologic abnormalities in patients exposed to molds in water-damaged buildings.
Campbell AW, Thrasher JD, Madison RA, Vojdani A, Gray MR, Johnson A.
Adverse health effects of fungal bioaerosols on occupants of water-damaged homes and other buildings have been reported. Recently, it has been suggested that mold exposure causes neurological injury. The authors investigated neurological antibodies and neurophysiological abnormalities in patients exposed to molds at home who developed symptoms of peripheral neuropathy (i.e., numbness, tingling, tremors, and muscle weakness in the extremities). Serum samples were collected and analyzed with the enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) technique for antibodies to myelin basic protein, myelin-associated glycoprotein, ganglioside GM1, sulfatide, myelin oligodendrocyte glycoprotein, alpha-B-crystallin, chondroitin sulfate, tubulin, and neurofilament. Antibodies to molds and mycotoxins were also determined with ELISA, as reported previously. Neurophysiologic evaluations for latency, amplitude, and velocity were performed on 4 motor nerves (median, ulnar, peroneal, and tibial), and for latency and amplitude on 3 sensory nerves (median, ulnar, and sural). Patients with documented, measured exposure to molds had elevated titers of antibodies (immunoglobulin [Ig]A, IgM, and IgG) to neural-specific antigens. Nerve conduction studies revealed 4 patient groupings: (1) mixed sensory-motor polyneuropathy (n = 55, abnormal), (2) motor neuropathy (n = 17, abnormal), (3) sensory neuropathy (n = 27, abnormal), and (4) those with symptoms but no neurophysiological abnormalities (n = 20, normal controls). All groups showed significantly increased autoantibody titers for all isotypes (IgA, IgM, and IgG) of antibodies to neural antigens when compared with 500 healthy controls. Groups 1 through 3 also exhibited abnormal neurophysiologic findings. The authors concluded that exposure to molds in water-damaged buildings increased the risk for development of neural autoantibodies, peripheral neuropathy, and neurophysiologic abnormalities in exposed individuals.
PMID: 15259425 [PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
Arch Environ Health. 2003 Aug;58(8):452-63.
Psychological, neuropsychological, and electrocortical effects of mixed mold exposure.
Crago BR, Gray MR, Nelson LA, Davis M, Arnold L, Thrasher JD.
The authors assessed the psychological, neuropsychological, and electrocortical effects of human exposure to mixed colonies of toxigenic molds. Patients (N = 182) with confirmed mold-exposure history completed clinical interviews, a symptom checklist (SCL-90-R), limited neuropsychological testing, quantitative electroencephalogram (QEEG) with neurometric analysis, and measures of mold exposure. Patients reported high levels of physical, cognitive, and emotional symptoms. Ratings on the SCL-90-R were "moderate" to "severe," with a factor reflecting situational depression accounting for most of the variance. Most of the patients were found to suffer from acute stress, adjustment disorder, or post-traumatic stress. Differential diagnosis confirmed an etiology of a combination of external stressors, along with organic metabolically based dysregulation of emotions and decreased cognitive functioning as a result of toxic or metabolic encephalopathy. Measures of toxic mold exposure predicted QEEG measures and neuropsychological test performance. QEEG results included narrowed frequency bands and increased power in the alpha and theta bands in the frontal areas of the cortex. These findings indicated a hypoactivation of the frontal cortex, possibly due to brainstem involvement and insufficient excitatory input from the reticular activating system. Neuropsychological testing revealed impairments similar to mild traumatic brain injury. In comparison with premorbid estimates of intelligence, findings of impaired functioning on multiple cognitive tasks predominated. A dose-response relationship between measures of mold exposure and abnormal neuropsychological test results and QEEG measures suggested that toxic mold causes significant problems in exposed individuals. Study limitations included lack of a comparison group, patient selection bias, and incomplete data sets that did not allow for comparisons among variables.
PMID: 15259424 [PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
Arch Environ Health. 2003 Jul;58(7):421-32. Related Articles, Compound via MeSH, Substance via MeSH, Books, LinkOut
Antibodies to molds and satratoxin in individuals exposed in water-damaged buildings.
Vojdani A, Thrasher JD, Madison RA, Gray MR, Heuser G, Campbell AW.
Immunoglobulin (Ig)A, IgM, and IgG antibodies against Penicillium notatum, Aspergillus niger, Stachybotrys chartarum, and satratoxin H were determined in the blood of 500 healthy blood donor controls, 500 random patients, and 500 patients with known exposure to molds. The patients were referred to the immunological testing laboratory for health reasons other than mold exposure, or for measurement of mold antibody levels. Levels of IgA, IgM, and IgG antibodies against molds were significantly greater in the patients (p < 0.001 for all measurements) than in the controls. However, in mold-exposed patients, levels of these antibodies against satratoxin differed significantly for IgG only (p < 0.001), but not for IgM or IgA. These differences in the levels of mold antibodies among the 3 groups were confirmed by calculation of z score and by Scheffe's significant difference tests. A general linear model was applied in the majority of cases, and 3 different subsets were formed, meaning that the healthy control groups were different from the random patients and from the mold-exposed patients. These findings indicated that mold exposure was more common in patients who were referred for immunological evaluation than it was in healthy blood donors. The detection of antibodies to molds and satratoxin H likely resulted from antigenic stimulation of the immune system and the reaction of serum with specially prepared mold antigens. These antigens, which had high protein content, were developed in this laboratory and used in the enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) procedure. The authors concluded that the antibodies studied are specific to mold antigens and mycotoxins, and therefore could be useful in epidemiological and other studies of humans exposed to molds and mycotoxins.
Randomized Controlled Trial
PMID: 15143855 [PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
Arch Environ Health. 2003 Jul;58(7):410-20.
Mixed mold mycotoxicosis: immunological changes in humans following exposure in water-damaged buildings.
Gray MR, Thrasher JD, Crago R, Madison RA, Arnold L, Campbell AW, Vojdani A.
The study described was part of a larger multicenter investigation of patients with multiple health complaints attributable to confirmed exposure to mixed-molds infestation in water-damaged buildings. The authors present data on symptoms; clinical chemistries; abnormalities in pulmonary function; alterations in T, B, and natural killer (NK) cells; the presence of autoantibodies (i.e., antinuclear autoantibodies [ANA], autoantibodies against smooth muscle [ASM], and autoantibodies against central nervous system [CNS] and peripheral nervous system [PNS] myelins). A total of 209 adults, 42.7 +/- 16 yr of age (mean +/- standard deviation), were examined and tested with (a) self-administered weighted health history and symptom questionnaires; (b) standardized physical examinations; (c) complete blood counts and blood and urine chemistries; (d) urine and fecal cultures; (e) thyroid function tests (T4, free T3); (f) pulmonary function tests (forced vital capacity [FVC], forced expiratory volume in 1 sec [FEV1.0], and forced expiratory flow at 25%, 50%, 75%, and 25-75% of FVC [FEF25, FEF50, FEF75, and FEF2(25-75)]); (g) peripheral lymphocyte phenotypes (T, B, and NK cells) and mitogenesis determinations; and (h) a 13-item autoimmune panel. The molds-exposed patients reported a greater frequency and intensity of symptoms, particularly neurological and inflammatory symptoms, when compared with controls. The percentages of exposed individuals with increased lymphocyte phenotypes were: B cells (CD20+), 75.6%; CD5+CD25+, 68.9%; CD3+CD26+, 91.2%; CD8+HLR-DR+, 62%; and CD8+CD38+, 56.6%; whereas other phenotypes were decreased: CD8+CD11b+, 15.6% and CD3-CD16+CD56+, 38.5%. Mitogenesis to phytohemagglutinin was decreased in 26.2% of the exposed patients, but only 5.9% had decreased response to concanavalin A. Abnormally high levels of ANA, ASM, and CNS myelin (immunoglobulins [Ig]G, IgM, IgA) and PNS myelin (IgG, IgM, IgA) were found; odds ratios for each were significant at 95% confidence intervals, showing an increased risk for autoimmunity. The authors conclude that exposure to mixed molds and their associated mycotoxins in water-damaged buildings leads to multiple health problems involving the CNS and the immune system, in addition to pulmonary effects and allergies. Mold exposure also initiates inflammatory processes. The authors propose the term "mixed mold mycotoxicosis" for the multisystem illness observed in these patients.
Controlled Clinical Trial
PMID: 15143854 [PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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