The Characteristic, Occurrence of Aflatoxin and Associated Risk with Human Health

Sharique Ahmad *

Department of Pathology, Era's Lucknow Medical College and Hospital, Era University, Lucknow, Uttar Pradesh – 226003, India.

Subuhi Anwar

Department of Pathology, Era's Lucknow Medical College and Hospital, Era University, Lucknow, Uttar Pradesh – 226003, India.

Pushpendra D. Pratap

Department Biochemistry, Era's Lucknow Medical College and Hospital, Era University, Lucknow, Uttar Pradesh - 226003, India.

*Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.


Aflatoxins are toxins produced by the fungus Aspergillus parasiticus and Aspergillus flavus. They are colorless, cannot be detected under normal light, odorless and contaminated foods most often do not have any special or bad smell. Environmental factors such as the temperature, and vectors causing grain damage have an important effect on favoring the colonization of fungus and the production of aflatoxins. They contaminate agriculture products worldwide affecting their quality, safety & security. The effects on safety & security cause health threats among people and animals on their long-term exposure through consumption because they are mutagenic, teratogenic, genotoxic, and carcinogenic. Humans and animals can develop the disease known as aflatoxicosis as a result of aflatoxins known as Acute and Chronic primary aflatoxicosis. Aflatoxins' long-term effects have been shown to decrease normal immune response also it can cause growth retardation in babies and affect nutritional deficiency. It can disrupt such enzymes that can affect hormones, endocrine glands, and neurotransmitters which may influence a person's cognitive abilities, memory, and learning, restlessness, muscular tremors, seizures, absentmindedness, tremors, uncoordinated movement of muscles, and aberrant agitation are caused by deficiencies in the neurotransmitters. Aflatoxin toxicity in humans can range from acute or chronic conditions to liver damage such as liver carcinoma, internal bleeding, edema, and instant death. Acute toxicosis can cause gastrointestinal dysfunctions in humans and animals. Aflatoxins have been shown to have detrimental negative impacts on vascular fragility and cardiovascular health, tissue bleeding, and teratogenic consequences. According to reports, aflatoxins have severe and detrimental impacts mostly on the respiratory systems it can also cause lung cancer.

Keywords: Aflatoxicosis, food security, safety, fungi, one health

How to Cite

Ahmad, S., Anwar, S., & Pratap, P. D. (2022). The Characteristic, Occurrence of Aflatoxin and Associated Risk with Human Health. Microbiology Research Journal International, 32(7), 39–50.


Download data is not yet available.


Assaf JC, Nahle S, Chokr A, Louka N, Atoui A, El Khoury A. Assorted methods for decontamination of aflatoxin M1 in milk using microbial adsorbents. Toxins (Basel). 2019;11(6).

Klich MA, Tang S, Denning DW. Aflatoxin and ochratoxin production by Aspergillus species under ex vivo conditions. Mycopathologia. 2009;168(4):185-91.

Guchi E. Implication of aflatoxin contamination in agricultural products. Am J Food Nutr. 2015;3(1):12-20.

Battilani P, Toscano P, Der Fels-Klerx V, Moretti A, Camardo LM, Brera C, Robinson T. Sci Rep. 2016. Aflatoxin B1 contamination in maize in Europe increases due to climate change;6(1):1.

Moretti A, Pascale M, Logrieco AF. Mycotoxin risks under a climate change scenario in Europe. Trends Food Sci Technol. 2019;84:38-40.

Coppock RW, Christian RG, Jacobsen BJ. Aflatoxins. In: Veterinary toxicology. Academic Press; 2018. p. 983-94.

Pitt JI, Hocking AD. Fungi and food spoilage. New York: Springer. 2009;519:388.

Inan F, Pala M, Doymaz I. Use of ozone in detoxification of aflatoxin b1 in red pepper. J Stored Prod Res. 2007;43(4): 425-9.

Kumar A, Pathak H, Bhadauria S, Sudan J. Aflatoxin contamination in food crops: causes, detection and management: a review. Food Prod Process Nutr. 2021;3(1):1-9.

Rustom IYS. Aflatoxin in food and feed: occurrence, legislation and inactivation by physical methods. Food Chem. 1997;59(1):57-67.

Jasutiene I, Garmiene G, Kulikauskiene M. Pasteurization and fermentation effects on aflatoxin M1 stability. Milchwissenschaft. 2006;61(1):75-9.

Jalili M. A review on aflatoxins reduction in food. Iran J Health Saf Environ. 2016;3(1):445-59.

Echodu R, Maxwell Malinga G, Moriku Kaducu J, Ovuga E, Haesaert G. Prevalence of aflatoxins, ochratoxin and deoxynivalenol in cereal grains in Northern Uganda: implication for food safety and Health. Toxicol Rep. 2019;6:1012-7.


Omara T, Nassazi W, Omute T, Awath A, Laker F, Kalukusu R et al. Aflatoxins in Uganda: an Encyclopedic Review of the Etiology, Epidemiology, Detection, Quantification, Exposure Assessment, Reduction and control. Int J Microbiol. 2020;2020:4723612.

Smith JE. Aflatoxins. In: Handbook of plant and fungal toxicants. CRC Press. 2020;269-85.

Peles F, Sipos P, Győri Z, Pfliegler WP, Giacometti F, Serraino A et al. Adverse effects, transformation and channeling of aflatoxins into food raw materials in livestock. Front Microbiol. 2019;10:2861.

Ráduly Z, Szabó L, Madar A, Pócsi I, Csernoch L. Toxicological and medical aspects of Aspergillus-derived mycotoxins entering the feed and food chain. Front Microbiol. 2019;10(2908):2908.

Robens JF, Richard JL. Aflatoxins in animal and human health. Rev Environ Contam Toxicol. 1992;127:69-94.

Wogan GN. Chemical nature and biological effects of aflatoxins. Bacteriol Rev. 1966;30(2):460-70.

Tola M, Kebede B. Occurrence, importance and control of mycotoxins: a review. Cogent Food Agric. 2016;2(1): 1191103.

Lizarraga-Paulin E, Miranda-Castro S, Moreno-Martinez E, Torres-Pacheco I, Lara-Sagahon AV. Novel methods for preventing and controlling aflatoxins in food: A worldwide daily challenge. Aflatoxins-recent Advances and future Prospects Razzaghi-Abyaneh M, editor. 2013;93-128.

Torres AM, Barros GG, Palacios SA, Chulze SN, Battilani P. Review on pre- and post-harvest management of peanuts to minimize aflatoxin contamination. Food Res Int. 2014;62:11-9.

Norlia M, Jinap S, Nor-Khaizura MAR, Radu S, Samsudin NIP, Azri FA. Aspergillus section Flavi and aflatoxin: occurrence, detection and identification in raw peanuts and peanut-based products along the supply chain. Front Microbiol. 2019;10(2602):2602.

SAB, AA. Mycotoxins in food in West Africa: Current situation and possibilities of controlling it. Afr J Biotechnol. 2003;2(9):254-63.

Bennett JW, Klich MA. Mycotoxins. Clin Microbiol Rev. 2003;16(3):497-516:Article CAS.

Aflatoxins NL. National Library of Medicine. Hazardous substance data base. Toxnet (National Data Network); 2002.

WHO hazardous chemicals in humans and environmental health. Geneva, Switzerland: International Programme on Chemical safety. World Health Organisation. 2000;7:9.


Peraica M, Radić B, Lucić A, Pavlović M. Diseases caused by molds in humans. Bull World Health Organ. 1999;77(9): 754-66.

World Health Organization. Collaboration between the World Health Organization and the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences: Highlights from 30 years of partnership.

Barrett JR. Liver cancer and aflatoxin: New information from the Kenyan outbreak. Environ Health Perspect. 2005;113(12).

Murthy TR, Jemmali M, Henry Y, Frayssinet C. Aflatoxin residues in tissues of growing swine: effect of separate and mixed feeding of protein and protein-free portions of the diet. J Anim Sci. 1975;41(5):1339-47.

Thrasher JD. Aflatoxicosis in animals. Aflatoxins and health; 2012

Fapohunda SO, Awoyinka OA, Olajuyigbe OO, Ezekiel CN, Esiaba I. Enzyme- related aflatoxin production in vital organs of rats fed with Aspergillus species-inoculated rat chow. J Biol Environ Sci. 2007;1(1).

Verma RJ. Aflatoxin cause DNA damage. Int J Hum Genet. 2004 Dec 1;4(4):231-6.

Coulombe Jr RA. Nonhepatic disposition and effects of aflatoxin b1. The Toxicol Aflatoxins Hum Health Vet Agric Significance. 1993:89-101.

Weekley LB, O’Rear CE, Kimbrough TD, Llewellyn GC. Differential changes in rat brain tryptophan, serotonin and tyrosine levels following acute aflatoxin b1 treatment. Toxicol Lett. 1989;47(2):173-7.

Harriet AM. Is indoor mold contamination a threat to health? J Environ Health. 2003;62(2):0022892 62 2:0022-892.

Coulombe Jr RA. Nonhepatic disposition and effects of aflatoxin b1. The Toxicol Aflatoxins Hum Health Vet Agric Significance. 1993:89-101.

Gupta RC. Aflatoxins, ochratoxins and citrinin. Reproductive and developmental Toxicology.

Nugraha A, Khotimah K, Rietjens IMCM. Risk assessment of aflatoxin b1 exposure from maize and peanut consumption in Indonesia using the margin of exposure and liver cancer risk estimation approaches. Food Chem Toxicol. 2018;113:134-44.

Kucukcakan B, Hayrulai-Musliu Z. Challenging role of dietary aflatoxin b1 exposure and hepatitis B infection on risk of hepatocellular carcinoma. Open Access Maced J Med Sci. 2015;3(2):363-9.

Liu Y, Wu F. Global burden of aflatoxin-induced hepatocellular carcinoma: A risk assessment. Environ Health Perspect. 2010;118(6):818-24.

Rapisarda V, Loreto C, Malaguarnera M, Ardiri A, Proiti M, Rigano G; et al. Hepatocellular carcinoma and the risk of occupational exposure. World J Hepatol. 2016;8(13):573-90.

Liu W, Wang L, Zheng C, Liu L, Wang J, Li D et al. Microcystin-LR increases genotoxicity induced by aflatoxin b1 through oxidative stress and DNA base excision repair genes in human hepatic cell lines. Environ Pollut. 2018;233:455-63.

Livingstone MC, Johnson NM, Roebuck BD, Kensler TW, Groopman JD. Profound changes in miRNA expression during cancer initiation by aflatoxin b1 and their abrogation by the chemopreventive triterpenoid CDDO-Im. Mol Carcinog. 2017;56(11):2382-90.

Rieswijk L, Claessen SM, Bekers O, van Herwijnen M, Theunissen DH, Jennen DG et al. Aflatoxin b1 induces persistent epigenomic effects in primary human hepatocytes associated with hepatocellular carcinoma. Toxicology. 2016;350-352:31-9.

Hayes RB, Van Nieuwenhuize JP, Raatgever JW, ten Kate FJW. Aflatoxin exposure in the industrial setting: an epidemiological study of mortality. Food Chem Toxicol. 1984;22(1):39-43.

Donnelly PJ, Stewart RK, Ali SL, Conlan AA, Reid KR, Petsikas D et al. Biotransformation of aflatoxin b1 in human lung. Carcinogenesis. 1996;17(11):2487-94.

Mulder JE, Turner PV, Massey TE. Effect of 8-oxoguanine glycosylase deficiency on aflatoxin b1 tumourigenicity in mice. Mutagenesis. 2015;30(3):401-9.

Cui A, Hua H, Shao T, Song P, Kong Q, Luo T et al. Aflatoxin b1 induces Src phosphorylation and stimulates lung cancer cell migration. Tumour Biol. 2015;36(8):6507-13.

Harrison JC, Carvajal M, Garner RC. Does aflatoxin exposure in the United Kingdom constitute a cancer risk? Environ Health Perspect. 1993;99:99-105.

Sobral MMC, Faria MA, Cunha SC, Ferreira IMPLVO. Toxicological interactions between mycotoxins from ubiquitous fungi: impact on hepatic and intestinal human epithelial cells. Chemosphere. 2018;202:538-48.

Gursoy-Yuzugullu O, Yuzugullu H, Yilmaz M, Ozturk M. Aflatoxin genotoxicity is associated with a defective DNA damage response bypassing p53 activation. Liver Int. 2011;31(4):561-71.

Kim J, Park SH, Do KH, Kim D, Moon Y. Interference with mutagenic aflatoxin b1-induced checkpoints through antagonistic action of ochratoxin A in intestinal cancer cells: A molecular explanation on potential risk of crosstalk between carcinogens. Oncotarget. 2016;7(26): 39627-39.