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Mol Nutr Food Res. 2006 May;50(6):519-29.

Balkan endemic nephropathy: role of ochratoxins A through biomarkers.

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  • 1International Agency of Research on Cancer, Lyon, France.


Several studies implicated mycotoxins, in endemic kidney disease geographically limited to Balkan region (Balkan endemic nephropathy (BEN)). In Bulgaria, much higher prevalence of ochratoxin A (OTA), exceeding 2 microg/L, was observed in the blood of affected population. OTA is found more often in the urine of people living in BEN-endemic villages. To confirm and quantify exposure to OTA in Vratza district, we followed up OTA intake for 1 month, OTA in blood and urine from healthy (20-30 years old) volunteers, from two villages with high risk for BEN disease. Food samples were collected daily, blood and urine at the beginning of each week. Relations between increasing OTA intake, blood concentration and elimination of OTA in urine have been studied in rats. Average weekly intake of OTA varies from 1.9 to 206 ng/kg body weight, twice tolerable weekly intake recommended by JECFA. OTA blood concentrations are in the same range as previously reported in this region with concentrations reaching 10 microg/L. Weekly OTA food intake is not directly correlated with blood and urine concentrations. Biomarkers of biological effects such as DNA adducts were detected in patients affected by urinary tract tumours (UTT) and in rat study. All these plead for the implication of OTA, in BEN and UTT.

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