Last revised by Rohit Sharma on 20 May 2024

Aflatoxins are naturally-occurring mycotoxins that are produced by Aspergillus species, especially Aspergillus flavus. They are acutely toxic and carcinogenic.

Acute exposure

High-level aflatoxin exposure can result in acute aflatoxicosis with acute hepatic necrosis, leading to cirrhosis, and potentially hepatocellular carcinoma

Chronic exposure

Chronic, subclinical exposure does not result in aflatoxicosis.  In children, it may cause developmental delay and growth restriction. Chronic exposure can also result in increased risk of hepatocellular carcinoma. 

Aflatoxin metabolites can intercalate into DNA resulting in mutation of p53, one of the tumor suppressor genes.  Some base pair locations are preferentially affected, e.g. the third base of codon 249 1.

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