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J Agric Food Chem. 2004 Apr 21;52(8):2404-10.

Analysis of ochratoxin A in foods consumed by inhabitants from an area with balkan endemic nephropathy: a 1 month follow-up study.

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National Center of Hygiene, Mycotoxicological Laboratory, 15 Dimitar Nestorov Street, 1431 Sofia, Bulgaria.


In the 1950s, a series of publications from Bulgaria, Yugoslavia, and Romania locally described a kidney disease called Balkan Endemic Nephropathy (BEN). In Bulgaria, the exposure of populations to ochratoxin A (OTA) was supported by analysis of individual food items demonstrating a higher prevalence and higher levels of OTA in food from the high-incidence areas of BEN. In this work, food consumption from a series of individuals from two villages of the BEN area during 1 month was followed using the duplicate diet method. Meals consumed by volunteers from both villages showed uneven OTA contents, spreading from below the limit of quantification (<0.07 microg/kg) to 2.6 microg/kg. The average weekly intake of OTA varies from 1.86 to 92.7 ng/kg of body weight. Some of these levels approach the provisional tolerable weekly intake (PTWI) established by the JECFA at 100 ng/kg of body weight. These results confirm previous studies performed in the same area and demonstrate the high exposure of this population to OTA, thus strengthening the hypothesis of the involvement of this mycotoxin in BEN etiology.

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