Ochratoxin A: An Overview on Toxicity and Carcinogenicity in Animals and Humans

Ochratoxin A (OTA) is a ubiquitous mycotoxin produced by fungi of improperly stored food pro- ducts. OTA is nephrotoxic and is suspected of being the main etiological agent responsible for human Balkan endemic nephropathy (BEN) and associated urinary tract tumours. Striking similarities between OTA-induced porcine nephropathy in pigs and BEN in hum…

Ochratoxin A (OTA) is a ubiquitous mycotoxin produced by fungi of improperly stored food pro- ducts. OTA is nephrotoxic and is suspected of being the main etiological agent responsible for human Balkan endemic nephropathy (BEN) and associated urinary tract tumours. Striking similarities between OTA-induced porcine nephropathy in pigs and BEN in humans are observed. International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) has classified OTA as a possible human carcinogen (group 2B). Currently, the mode of carcinogenic action by OTA is unknown. OTA is genotoxic following oxidative metabolism. This activity is thought to play a central role in OTA-mediated carcinogenesis and may be divided into direct (covalent DNA adduction) and indirect (oxidative DNA damage) mechanisms of action. Evidence for a direct mode of genotoxicity has been derived from the sensitive 32P-postlabelling assay. OTA facilitates guanine-specific DNA adducts in vitro and in rat and pig kid- ney orally dosed, one adduct comigrates with a synthetic carbon (C)-bonded C8-dG OTA adduct stan- dard. In this paper, our current understanding of OTA toxicity and carcinogenicity are reviewed. The available evidence suggests that OTA is a genotoxic carcinogen by induction of oxidative DNA lesi- ons coupled with direct DNA adducts via quinone formation. This mechanism of action should be used to establish acceptable intake levels of OTA from human food sources.

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