Research – Impregnation of the French population by mycotoxins. National Biomonitoring Program, Esteban 2014-2016

Sante Publique

Mycotoxins are substances secreted by certain toxigenic strains of several species of molds (microscopic fungi) such as Aspergillus, Penicillium, Fusarium, Byssochlamys, Alternaria etc. which in particular contaminate cereals and plants before and or after harvest. 

The toxicity of mycotoxins depends on the species and the nature of the toxin. They are generally thermostable, resistant to transformation processes and can be found in many foodstuffs and be responsible for acute or chronic poisoning in humans or animals. 

Of the 300 to 400 known mycotoxins, about ten of them can cause animal or human pathologies: aflatoxins (AF), ochratoxin A (OTA), fumonisins deoxynivalenol (DON), T-2 and HT-2 toxins, trichotecenes (TC), zearalenone (ZEN) and patulins which contaminate fruits, especially apples. In 1993, the IARC (International Agency for Research on Cancer) classified aflatoxins in group 1, carcinogenic to humans; AFB1, considered one of the most potent natural genotoxic carcinogens, is classified in group 1 (IARC, 2002). 

The target organ is the liver. As for OTA, it is considered possibly carcinogenic for humans and classified in group 2B (1993); in humans as in animals, the kidney is the main target organ. OTA would also have immunotoxic and neurotoxic effects. Due to their harmful effects, exposure to mycotoxins must remain as low as possible to protect the population. L’ WHO encourages the monitoring of mycotoxin levels in food because they represent a risk for human and animal health. 

In France, data on the impregnation of the French population by mycotoxins are almost non-existent, with the exception of a study carried out in three French regions [1, 2]. The Esteban cross-sectional study (Health study on the environment, biomonitoring, physical activity and nutrition) made it possible to measure the levels of impregnation by aflatoxins and OTA of the population in mainland France aged 6 at 74 years old between April 2014 and March 2016.

The purpose of this note is to present the results of impregnation by AFs and OTA, and to analyze the determinants of exposure to OTA in adults . Aflatoxins B1, B2, G1, G2, M1 were not quantified, neither in children nor in adults. For OTA, the percentage of quantification was equal to 45.5% in children and 47.8% in adults. The geometric means of the levels of impregnation by the OTA were lower than the LOQ or not provided considering the important rate of censorship. 

The search for the determinants of exposure by OTA, essentially dietary, in adults showed an increase in impregnation with the consumption of processed meats. Not all associations could likely be identified due to small sample size. A future biomonitoring study could make it possible to deepen the search for determinants of the impregnations observed and to broaden the knowledge of the

Author: Oleko Amivi, Hoang Phan, Fillol Clémence, Gane Jessica, Saoudi Abdessattar, Zeghnoun Abdelkrim
Year of publication: 2022
Pages: 35 p.
Collection: Studies and Surveys

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