What Is Toxin Bioaccumulation? How Biotoxin Accumulation Causes (Reversible) Chronic Dysfunction

Biotoxin Accumulation 101 - Biotoxins In Chronic Disease




Recent evidence suggests that 70–90% of chronic disease is likely related to environmental determinants. R

In this post, we will discuss how biotoxin accumulation may cause chronic illness.


  1. Basics Of Biotoxin Accumulation
  2. Examples Of What Can Accumulate
  3. What Diseases Are Involved In Bioaccumulation?
  4. What Makes Bioaccumulation Worse?
  5. Ways To Prevent Bioaccumulation
  6. Ways To Detox/Counteract Biotoxins
  7. What Doesn't Help?
  8. Some Mechanisms Of Biotoxification
  9. More Research

Basics Of Biotoxin Accumulation




Biotoxin Accumulation (bioaccumulation of toxins) is the basic concept of foreign and endogenous substances building up in the body.

This buildup can during any time in a person's life (from in utero womb development throughout your lifetime). R

These "toxins" cause dysregulation of normal cell function and may contribute to many chronic illnesses and specifically neurological disorders.

As they can affect the central nervous system, this post is focusing mainly on how the body reacts to biotoxin accumulation. 

Recent studies (e.g. by the CDC and Canada) have shown that most American adults and children of both genders have bioaccumulated numerous toxic pollutants in their body. R R

Examples Of What Can Accumulate

This is not an exclusive list of all toxins, but a general guide to avoid what could be causing the most harm. 

Air Pollution

Bad air quality has been linked to dementia, while higher air quality may boost cognition (can be worse for APOE4). R R R R

  • Asbestos R
  • Carbon Monoxide R R
  • Nitrogen Dioxide R
  • Ozone R
  • Particulate Matter R
  • Smoking (second hand as well) R R R

Water Pollution

  • Perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA, also used in fire-fighting foams, treatment of clothes, carpets and leather products, and as lubricants, pesticides, in paints and medicine) - affect the thyroid system, influence the calcium homeostasis, protein kinase C, synaptic plasticity and cellular differentiation R R R R R R
  • Perfluorooctanesulfonate (PFOS) R R R R

Flame Retardants

  • Brominated Flame Retardants (PBDEs) - causes Ca2+-ATPase inhibition; beta-amyloid release and apoptosis in neurons; damages ER; fetotoxic and reproductive effects  R R
  • Decabromodiphenyl Ether R
  • Hexabromocyclododecane R
  • Tetrabromobisphenol A (TBBPA) - causes excitotoxicty R R R
  • Trichloroethylene (TCE) - causes motor dysfunction; destroys SN, DA; easily crosses BBB; ↑ROS; ↓Complex I R R
  • 2,2′,4,4′-tetrachlorobiphenyl R
  • 6-Hydroxy-2,2′,4,4′-tetrabromodiphenyl Ether R



  • Aldrin R
  • Chlordane R
  • DDE (metabolite from DDT) - Metabolic byproducts of DDT such as DDE continue to be found in serum samples of 75–80% of the population due to its long half life and continued exposure R R
  • Dieldrin R
  • Heptachlor R
  • Maneb R
  • Methyl Parathion R
  • Organophosphates (general) - ↓AChE R R R R R
  • Paraquat ↑ ROS and killed DA neurons R
  • (general) PesticidesInsecticides, Fungicides, Herbicides R R
  • Pyrethroids R
  • Rotenone - used to induce PD symptoms in animal models; it's highly lipophilic, easily crosses the BBB R R


  • Anesthetic Agents R
  • Benzodiazepines R
  • Opioids R


  • Estrogenics (in general) - may also affect child visual-spatial abilities R R
  • Phenols (e.g. BPA) R R
  • Phthalate Esters R R
  • Polychlorinated Biphenyls (PCBs) - increases translocation of PKC and decreases Ca2+-buffering in the brain R


  • Carbon Disulfide R R
  • Organic Solvents (general) R
  • Perchloroethylene (PERC) R
  • Toluene R 


  • Algal/Marine toxins - eg β-Methylamino-L-Alanine (BMAA) R
  • Autotoxins (e.g. those generated from Colchicine)  R
  • Bacterial Toxins R R
  • Endotoxins (e.g. LPSR
  • Fungal Toxins (e.g. various Terpenoids) R
  • Mycotoxins - destroys BBB; ↑ROS ↑MMP9 R R
  • Viral Toxins R R


  • Acrylamide R
  • Cyanide - ↓complex IV R
  • Dioxins R R
  • Formaldehyde - induces hyperphosphorylation and polymerization of Tau protein both in vitro and in vivo; is worse for those who are APOE4 R R R
  • Gasoline R
  • Methanol - may cause memory impairment and tau hyperphosphorylation R R 
  • Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) R

What Diseases Are Involved In Bioaccumulation?




Not an exclusive list:

  • ADHD R
  • ALS R R R R
  • Alzheimer's Disease R R R R R R
  • Asthma R
  • Autism Spectrum Disorders R
  • Autoimmunity R
  • Brain Damage (general) R R
  • Breast Cancer R
  • Cardiovascular Disease R R R R
  • (Multiple) Chemical Sensitivities R R
  • Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS)/Myalgic Encephalomyelitis (ME) R R
  • Chronic Inflammatory Response Syndrome (CIRS) R R
  • Chronic Obstructive Airway Disease R
  • Cryptorchidism R R
  • Decreased IQ R
  • Decreased Verbal Fluency R
  • Dementia and Vascular Dementia (via hyper-/hypo-tension) R R R
  • Developmental Problems R R
  • Diabetes R R
  • Dysbiosis R
  • Dyslexia R
  • Electromagnetic Hypersensitivity (possibly? - retracted article) R
  • Fibromyalgia R
  • Guam ALS-Parkinsonism-Dementia R
  • Gulf War Syndrome R
  • Hypospadias R R 
  • Idiopathic Environmental Intolerances R
  • Infertility R R
  • Leaky BBB R
  • Leukemia R R R R
  • Liver Cancer R
  • Lung Cancer R
  • Meningitis R R
  • Multiple Sclerosis R R R
  • Multiple System Atrophy (MSA) R
  • Nerve Damage (general) R
  • Obesity R R R
  • Ovarian Dysgenesis Syndrome R
  • Parkinson's Disease R R
  • Poor Semen Quality R R R
  • Progressive Supranuclear Palsy R
  • Retardation R
  • Schizophrenia R
  • Sensitivity-Related Illness R
  • Sick Building Syndrome R R
  • Systemic Exertion Intolerance Disease R
  • Reproductive Cancers (e.g. Prostate, Testicular) R R
  • Testicular Dysgenesis Syndrome R R
  • Violence (may be related to CNS dysfunction) R

What Makes Bioaccumulation Worse?

Some things that can make it worse:

  • Disrupted BBB (stroke, concussion, mycotoxin exposure, etc) R
  • Disrupted Blood–Spinal Cord Barrier R
  • Dysfunctional Detoxification
  • Mitochondrial Dysfunction R
  • Multiple Neurotoxicant Exposures (general)
  • Oxidative Stress (general) R
  • Proteopathy (general) R
  • Some Genetic Mutations (I can't list them all, but check out DJ-1, APOE, PON1, NRF2) R R

Neurotoxicants that are highly lipid soluble may easily move across biological membranes and thus cross the BBB by simple diffusion, gaining access to the brain. R

Ways To Prevent Bioaccumulation

General Rule Of Thumb

The overall point here is to avoid all toxic biotoxins (as much as possible), but may not be possible for everyone's lifestyle.

For example, viruses (e.g. herpes) can get stuck in the nervous system, and we have yet identified methods to remove it, although we do know great ways to inhibit its replication. R

Just like food/water, anything can be toxic (dependent on the dose) and proper elimination/ moderate usage (e.g. not mega-dosing zinc) is probably the best bet. R

Although, many toxicants (e.g. solvents, pesticides, petrochemicals, mycotoxins, synthetic chemical agents) are persistent pollutants with half-lives that can last for many years or decades. R R

Of course, eliminating the most harmful things from your life in the short-term (some pharmaceuticals, bacterial infections, mycotoxins, highly reactive chemicals, etc) are critical for being healthy now.

In the long-term, removing every toxin (although challenging) is the best thing you can do for your health. 

Live Outside

When I say "live outside", this only includes areas where the air quality is not more harmful than toxic (see airnow.gov for the air quality in your area - US only).

Being indoors increases the chances of mycotoxins, VOCs, etc, so if you have to be inside, buy a good HEPA filter

Ozone and other free-radical (hydroxyl) generating appliances may be used, but we do not have good enough research and evidence on how the byproducts they make affect us. 

Single Vs Multiple Event Exposure

It is important to note that most toxicant exposures do not usually occur as single isolated events.

A bigger problem may be occupational or habitat environments with repeated exposed to chemical toxicants and are therefore accruing persistent pollutants on an ongoing basis, some of which will remain in tissues for decades. 

Whereas single exposures may be less problematic and perhaps harmless depending on the particular toxic agent and the dose, the repeated exposure to toxic agents presents an accumulated burden or total load to the intricate physiological functioning of the body. R

Dose Of Exposure

Like I said the dose may be the poison.

Various toxicants can have an extremely potent physiological impact at seemingly minuscule doses. R R R

For example, ethinyl estradiol in birth control pills maintains its contraceptive efficacy at serum levels below 62 to 83 ppt (parts per trillion). R

Ways To Detox/Counteract Biotoxins


What Doesn't Help?

  • Intermittent Fasting - may make PD progression (dopaminergic destruction) worse from pesticide exposure R

Some Mechanisms Of Biotoxification

  • Apoptosis/Autophagy Dysregulation - P53, GRP78, HSP27, CTSD, hnRNPC? R R
  • BBB Permeability R
  • Endocrine Disruption - see Estrogenics for examples R
  • Epigenetic/Trans- Intra-generational  Changes R R R R
  • Mitochondrial Damage - disruption of mtETC? R
  • Neurotransmitter Dysregulation - e.g. Acetylcholine/nAChRs/GABA/Glutamate/Dopamine R R R
  • Oxidative Stress - ↑Cytochrome C, ↑PARP, ↑Caspase3 R

More Research

  • The World Health Organisation estimates that 4.9 million deaths and 86 million Disability Adjusted Life Years were attributed to environmental chemicals in 2011 and that approximately one-quarter of the global disease burden, and more than one-third of the burden among children under the age of 5 is due to modifiable environmental factors. R