Sommaire de l'article
Ochratoxin A (OTA) produced by Aspergillus and Penicillium genera contaminates a diversity of foods in the normal diet, including cereals and cereal-made foods, dried fruits, beans, cocoa, coffee, beer, wine (red essentially) and foodstuffs of animal origin mainly poultry eggs, pork and milk including human breast milk. OTA is nephrotoxic to all animal species studied so far and most likely to humans, who show the longest half-life time for elimination of this toxin among all species examined. Among other toxic effects OTA is teratogenic, immunotoxic, genotoxic, mutagenic and carcinogenic, all of which lead to life-threatening pathologies. Thus, OTA acts through several molecular pathways leading to different chronic toxic lesions.To assess OTA in human blood, the immunoaffinity column and ELISA techniques have recently been emerging along with HPLC for separation and fluorimetric quantification. They should be followed by confirmation with one or two derivatives of OTA which have a profile shift on the chromatogram. For a complete diagnosis of human ochratoxicosis it is necessary to identify the origin of the toxin to relate its presence in human blood with at least a pathology one can cure or prevent. This is still a very difficult task, since humans may be exposed to several toxins simultaneously with synergistic or antagonistic effects. Also, conditions of exposure can vary from place to place or individual to individual whether the route of administration is via digestive tract or the respiratory system. This difficult situation is somehow worse in developing countries, where in the early eighties several groups initiated investigations on the prevalence of OTA in human blood, followed by or directly combined with a food survey for OTA in commodities. Interestingly, OTA is found in human blood everywhere. However, the prevalence is different, as well as the OTA blood levels, due to the diversity of health and economic situations, and to preventive measures that have been implemented. Important factors affecting body burdens and pathologies include the quality of the diet in providing antioxidants, vitamins, and amino acids, such as phenylalanine in the sweetener Aspartame. To clarify the situation with human ochratoxicosis several studies and reports will be presented and discussed.