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Aflatoxin B1 (AFB1) is a class 1 carcinogen with an ascertained role in the development of hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) in high exposure areas. Instead, this study aimed to assay whether chronic/intermittent, low-dose AFB1 consumption might occur in low-exposure geographical areas, ultimately accumulating in the liver and possibly contributing to liver cancer. AFB1-DNA adducts were assayed by immunostaining in liver tissues from three Italian series of twenty cirrhosis without HCC, 131 HCC, and 45 cholangiocarcinoma, and in an AFB1-induced HCC rat model. CD68, TP53 immunostaining, and TP53 RFLP analysis of R249S transversion were used to characterize cell populations displaying AFB1-DNA adducts. Twenty-five HCCs displayed AFB1-adducts both in neoplastic hepatocytes and in cells infiltrating the tumor and non-tumor tissues. Nuclear immunostaining was observed in a few cases, while most cases showed cytoplasmic immunostaining, especially in CD68-positive tumor-infiltrating cells, suggestive for phagocytosis of dead hepatocytes. Similar patterns were observed in AFB1-induced rat HCC, though with higher intensity. Cholangiocarcinoma and cirrhosis without HCC did not displayAFB1-adducts, except for one case. Despite not providing a causal relationship with HCC, these findings still suggest paying attention to detection and control measures for aflatoxins to ensure food safety in low exposure areas.


Laura Gramantieri, Federica Gnudi, Francesco Vasuri, Daniele Mandrioli, Francesca Fornari, Francesco Tovoli, Fabrizia Suzzi, Andrea Vornoli, Antonia D'Errico, Fabio Piscaglia, Catia Giovannini. Aflatoxin B1 DNA-Adducts in Hepatocellular Carcinoma from a Low Exposure Area. Nutrients. 2022 Apr 15;14(8)

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PMID: 35458213

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