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Trans R Soc Trop Med Hyg. 1992 Jul-Aug;86(4):426-30.

Aflatoxin exposure, malaria and hepatitis B infection in rural Gambian children.

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Medical Research Council Laboratories, Fajara, The Gambia.


Aflatoxin-albumin adduct levels were measured in serum samples obtained from a group of Gambian children. The relationships between exposure to aflatoxin and the prevalence of malaria, between exposure and humoral and cellular responses in vitro to defined malaria antigens and, amongst children with evidence of exposure to hepatitis B infection, between aflatoxin and carriage of the hepatitis B surface antigen (HBsAg), were assessed. Aflatoxin-albumin adduct was found in nearly all serum samples collected during a survey performed at the end of the dry season and levels of adduct were generally high (up to 720 pg aflatoxin-lysine equivalent/mg albumin). Higher levels of aflatoxin-albumin adduct were detected in Wollof children than in children of other ethnic groups and marked variation in mean adduct levels between villages was observed. Aflatoxin-albumin adduct levels were higher in children who were HbsAg positive and in children with Plasmodium falciparum parasitaemia than in controls. However, levels of adduct had no consistent effect on either malaria-specific antibody responses, lymphoproliferative responses in vitro, or morbidity from malaria during the subsequent rainy season. Much lower levels of aflatoxin-albumin adduct were detected in repeat samples obtained at the end of the rainy season. There was poor correlation between dry and rainy season levels of adduct in individual children. We have shown that Gambian children are exposed to high levels of aflatoxin. The seasonal variation of aflatoxin-albumin adduct and marked fluctuation of adduct with time in individual children need to be considered in the future planning of epidemiological studies using this marker of exposure.(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 250 WORDS).

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