Ochratoxins food contaminants: impact on human health

06 May 2016

Ochratoxins are secondary metabolites of Aspergillus and Penicillium, that are hazardous to health through contamination of dietary foods. Ochratoxin A (OTA) remains the single most potent member of this group of mycotoxins. OTA has a long half-life in humans and is thus easily detected in serum. Dietary intake studies have confirmed link between endemic nephrotoxicity in humans to their daily household intake of OTA. OTA has been reported to contribute to endemic nephrotoxicity and carcinogenicity in humans and animals. OTA produces renal tumours, DNA adducts and chromosomal aberrations in kidneys. OTA may be embryotoxic, teratogenic, and immunotoxic only at doses higher than those causing nephrotoxicity. The incidence of endemic nephrotoxicity has been mostly reported in northeast Europe since the early fifties. Recent studies however have warned that OTA and other toxins, such as aristolochic acid, show very similar renal pathology. There is thus the need for thorough co-occurrence studies on toxin incidence.