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Longitudinal evaluation of aflatoxin exposure in two cohorts in south-western Uganda

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Aflatoxins (AF) are a group of mycotoxins. AF exposure causes acute and chronic adverse health effects such as aflatoxicosis and hepatocellular carcinoma in human populations, especially in the developing world. In this study, AF exposure was evaluated using archived serum samples from human immunodeficiency virus (HIV)-seronegative participants from two cohort studies in south-western Uganda. AFB1–lysine (AFB-Lys) adduct levels were determined via HPLC fluorescence in a total of 713 serum samples from the General Population Cohort (GPC), covering eight time periods between 1989 and 2010. Overall, 90% (642/713) of the samples were positive for AFB-Lys and the median level was 1.58 pg mg−1 albumin (range = 0.40–168 pg mg−1 albumin). AFB-Lys adduct levels were also measured in a total of 374 serum samples from the Rakai Community Cohort Study (RCCS), across four time periods between 1999 and 2003. The averaged detection rate was 92.5% (346/374) and the median level was 1.18 pg mg−1 albumin (range = 0.40–122.5 pg mg−1 albumin). In the GPC study there were no statistically significant differences between demographic parameters, such as age, sex and level of education, and levels of serum AFB-Lys adduct. In the RCCS study, longitudinal analysis using generalised estimating equations revealed significant differences between the adduct levels and residential areas (p = 0.05) and occupations (p = 0.02). This study indicates that AF exposure in people in two populations in south-western Uganda is persistent and has not significantly changed over time. Data from one study, but not the other, indicated that agriculture workers and rural area residents had more AF exposure than those non-agricultural workers and non-rural area residents. These results suggest the need for further study of AF-induced human adverse health effects, especially the predominant diseases in the region.
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Keywords: Uganda; aflatoxin B1–lysine adduct; aflatoxins; cohort studies; human exposure

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: College of Public Health and Peanut CRSP, University of Georgia, Athens, GA, USA 2: Medical Research Council (MRC)/Uganda Virus Research Institute (UVRI) Research Unit on AIDS, Entebbe, Uganda 3: Rakai Health Sciences Program, Entebbe, Uganda 4: School of Public Health, Makerere University, Kampala, Uganda

Publication date: August 3, 2015

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