Published: 2021-01-28

Page: 1-8


Department of Botany, Uttam Institute of Technology and Management, Runkata Agra, Uttar Pradesh, India.


Department of Zoology, R. B. S. College, Agra – 282002, Uttar Pradesh, India.


Expertise Career Counsellor and Independent Researcher, Agra – 282002, Uttar Pradesh, India.

*Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.


Aflatoxins are a group of secondary metabolites produced mainly by Aspergillus flavus and also by Aspergillus parasiticus, that are acutely toxic to warm blooded animals including human beings. Aflatoxin producing species of Aspergillus are quite common and widespread in nature. They can colonise and contaminate grains before harvest or during storage. Host crops are particularly susceptible to infection by Aspergillus following prolonged exposure to a high humidity environment. Other favourable conditions include high moisture content and high temperature. The aflatoxins can be found on a wide range of commodities including cereals, pulses, oilseeds, spices and dry fruits. In India, aflatoxins have been reported from a variety of edible substances such as cereals, oil seeds, spices, vegetables, dry fruits, pulses, areca nut, coconut and fast foods.

The aflatoxins became the focus of intense investigations when outbreaks of disease called "Turkey X' disease" occurred in Poultry during 1960 in U.K. Since the beginning of mycotoxin research the aflatoxin problem has been an economic burden for the food crops, livestock and poultry industry. The aflatoxins are acutely toxic being carcinogenic, mutagenic and teratogenic to rat and other experimental animals, so there has always been a concern about contamination of food with aflatoxins and threat to both human and animal health. Primarily aflatoxin B1, B2, G1, G2 and M1 are of interest. The aflatoxin M1 is hydroxylated metabolite of B1 that is the most frequently occurring aflatoxin. Further aflatoxin B1, is one of the most potent hepato- carcinogens known, hence levels of aflatoxins in the diet are an important consideration for human health. It is therefore, essential to device suitable cheap and safe control measures to minimize the deleterious effects of these mycotoxins. The aim of this review study was to explore the biological ill effects and health hazards due to these aflatoxins.

Keywords: Aflatoxins, carcinogenic, mutagenic, teratogenic, health hazards.

How to Cite

SINGH, U., GUPTA, S., & GUPTA, M. (2021). A REVIEW STUDY ON BIOLOGICAL ILL EFFECTS AND HEALTH HAZARDS OF AFLATOXINS. Asian Journal of Advances in Medical Science, 3(1), 1–8. Retrieved from https://mbimph.com/index.php/AJOAIMS/article/view/1834


Download data is not yet available.


Mahuku G, Nzioki HS, Mutegi C, Kanampiu F, Narrod C, Makumbi D. Preharvest management is a critical practice for minimizing aflatoxin contamination of maize. Food Control. 2019;96:219–226.


Payne GA, Brown MP. Genetics and physiology of aflatoxin biosynthesis. Annu. Rev. Phytopathol. 1998;36:329–362.


Baranyi N, Kocsubé S, Vágvölgyi C, Varga J. Current trends in aflatoxin research. Acta Biol. Szeged. 2013;57:95–107.

Williams JH, Phillips TD, Jolly PE, Stiles JK, Jolly CM, Aggarwal D. Human aflatoxicosis in developing countries: a review of toxicology,exposure, potential health consequences, and interventions. Am. J. Clin. Nutr. 2004;80:1106–1122.

Kamala A, Shirima C, Jani B, Bakari M, Sillo H, Rusibamayila N, De Saeger S, Kimanya M, Gong Y, Simba A. Outbreak of an acute aflatoxicosis inTanzania during 2016. World Mycotoxin J. 2018;11:311–320.


Roze LV, Hong SY, Linz JE. Aflatoxin biosynthesis: current frontiers. Annu. Rev. Food Sci. Technol. 2013;4:293–311.


Barger G. Ergot and Ergotism, Gurney and Jackson, London; 1931.

Talayev BT, Mogunou BI, Sharbe EN. Alimentary haemorrhagic Aleukia. Nutr. Probl. 1936;5(6):27-35.

Riazanov. Lecture on the Republic Conference on Alimentary toxic Aleukia, Moscow; 1947.

Joffe AZ. Toxin production in cereal fungi causing toxic alimentary aleukia in man. In: Mycotoxin in Foodstuffs', G.N. Wogan (ed.), M.LT. Press, Cambridge. 1965;77-85.

Blount WP. Turkey X' disease and the labelling of poultry feeds. Vet. Rec. 1965;LXXIII:227.

Sargeant K, Sheridan A, Kelly JO, Carnaghan RBA. Toxicity associated with certain samples of groundnuts. Nature. 1961;192:1096-1097.

Vander Zijden ASM, Koclensmid WAAB, Bolding J, Barrett CB, Ord WO, Phillip J. Isolation in crystalline form of a toxin responsible for Turkey X' disease. Nature. 1962;195:1060-1062.

Hartley RD, Nesbit BF, Kelly JO. Toxic metabolites of Aspergillus flavus. Nature. 1963;198:1056-1058.

Bbosa GS, Kitya D, Lubega A, Ogwal-Okeng J, Anokbonggo WW, Kyegombe DB. Review of the biological and health effects of aflatoxins on body organs and body systems,” in Aflatoxins – Recent Advances and Future Prospects, ed. M. Razzaghi-Abyaneh (Rijeka: InTech). 2013;239–265.

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


Cheung KK, Sim GA. Aflatoxin G1 direct determination of the structure by the method of isomorphous replacement. Nature. 1964;201:1185-1188.

Allcroft R, Rogers H, Lewis G, Nabnay J, Best PE. Metabolism of aflatoxin in sheep: excretion of the milk toxin. Nature. 1966;209:154-155.

Tajik H, Rohani SMR, Moradi M. Detection of aflatoxin M1 in raw and commercialized pasteurized milk in Urmia, Iran. Pak. J. Bio. Sci. 2007;10(22):4103-4107.

Wolf-Hall C. Fungal and mushroom toxins,” in Pathogens and Toxins in Foods: Challenges and Interventions, eds V. K. Juneja and J. N. Sofos(Washington, DC: ASM Press). 2010;275–285.

Masri MS, Maddon WF, Lundin RE, Hsich DPH., Aflatoxin: A newsly indentified manor metabolite of aflatoxin B1 in Monkeys Liver: J. Agric. Food Chem.1974;59:119-124.

Cortés G, Carvajal M, Méndez-Ramírez I, Avila-González E, Chilpa-Galván N, Castillo-Urueta P, Flores CM. Identification and quantification of aflatoxins and aflatoxicol from poultry feed and their recovery in poultry litter. Poult Sci. 2010;89(5):993-1001.

DOI: 10.3382/ps.2009-00019.

Salhab AS, et al. Aflatoxicol M1: A new metabolite of aflatoxicol.Xenobioti‐ca. 1977;401-408.


Wogan GN. Aflatoxin risks and control measures. Federation Proc. 1968;27:932-938.

Probst C, Njapau H, Cotty PJ. Outbreak of an acute aflatoxicosis in Kenya in 2004: identification of the causal agent. Appl. Environ. Microbiol. 2007;73:2762–2764.


Kensler TW, Roebuck BD, Wogan GN, Groopman JD. Aflatoxin: a 50-year odyssey of mechanistic and translational toxicology. Toxicol. Sci. 2011;120:28–48.


Legator MS. Biological assay for aflatoxins. In: Aflatoxins scientific background control and implications. L.A. Goldblatt (ed.), Academic Press, New York. 1969;107-149.

World Health Organisation, Food Safety Digest; 2018. REF. No.: WHO/NHM/FOS/RAM/18.1

Lancaster MC, Jenkins FP, Philip J. Mc. L, Sargeant K, Sheridan A, Kelly JO, Carnaghan RBA. Toxicity associated with some samples of peanuts. Nature. 1961;192:1095-1097.

Le Breton E, Frayssinet C, Boy J. Sur J'apparitiond' hepatomes Spontances' chezle rat wishar. Role de latoxin de Aspergillus flavus. Intereten pathologie humaine et cancerologie experimentale. Complete rendu Academic Science (Paris). 1962;225:784-786.

Barner JM, Butler WH. Carcinogenic activity of aflatoxin to rats. Nature. 1964;202:1016.

Wogan GN, Newberne PM, Dose response characteristics of aflatoxin B, carcinogenesis in the rats. Cancer Res. 1967;27:2370-2376.

Carnaghan RBA, Hartley RO, Kelly JO. Toxicity and fluorescence properties of the aflatoxins. Nature. 1963;1101.

Butler WH. Acute toxicity of aflatoxin B1 in rats. Brit. J. Cancer. 1964;18:756-762.

Carnaghan RBA. Hepatic tumours in ducks fed a low level of toxic groundnut meal. Nature. 1965;208:308.

Halver JE. Aflatoxicosis and trout hepatomas. In: Aflatoxin (Goldblatt, L.A. ed.), Academic Press, New York. 1969;265-306.

Newberne PM, Russo R, Wogan GN. Acute toxicity of aflatoxin B1 in the dog. Pathol. Ver. 1966;1:105-132.

Oettle AG. The etiology of liver carcinoma in Africa with an outline of the mycotoxin hypothesis. S. African Med. J. 1965;39:817-825.

Enomoto M, Saito M. Carcinogens produced by fungi. Ann. Rev. Microbiol. 1972;26:279-312.

Alpert ME, Hutt MSR, Davidson C. Primary hepatoma in Uganda: A prospective clinical and epidemiological study of 46 patients. Am. J. Med. 1969;46:794-802.

Keen P, Martin P. Is aflatoxin carcinogenic in man? The evidence in Swaziland. Trop. Geogr. Med. 1971;23:44-53.

Shank RC, Wogan GN, Gibson JB. Dietary aflatoxin and human liver cancer I. Toxigenic moulds in foods and foodstuffs of tropical South East Asia. Food Cosmetol. Toxicol. 1972;10:51-60.

Peers FG, Linsell CA. Dietary aflatoxin and liver cancer: A population based study in Kenya. Brit. J. Cancer. 1973;27:473-484.

Van Rensburg SJ, Cook-Mozaffari P, Van Schalkwyk DJ, Van der Watt JJ, Vincent TJ, Purchase IF. Hepatocellular carcinoma and dietary aflatoxin in Mozambique and Transkei. Br J Cancer. 1985;51(5):713-726.


Van Rensburg SJ, van der Watt JJ, Purchase IF, Pereira Coutinho L, Markham R. Primary liver cancer rate and aflatoxin intake in a high cancer area. S Afr Med J. 1974;48(60):2508A–2508D.

Singh U. Studies on antiaflatoxigenic potential of some wild plants of Asteraceae. Ph. D. Thesis, Dr. B. R. Ambedkar University Agra; 2009.

Cukrová V, Kurita N, Akao M. An early effect of aflatoxin B1 administered in vivo on the growth of bone marrow CFU-GM and the production of some cytokines in rats. Mycopathologia. 1992;120:113–119.

Madhavan TV, Tulpule PG, Gopalan C. Aflatoxin induced hepatic fibrosis in rhesus monkeys. Arch. Pathol. 1965;79:466-469.

Butler WH. Toxicity of aflatoxin B, in guinea pigs. J. Pathol. Bacteriol. 1966;91:277-280.

Tulpule PG, Madhavan TV, Gopalan C. Effect of feeding aflatoxin in young Monkeys. Lancer, 1964;7:962-963.

Madhavan TV, Gopalan C. Effect of dietary protein on aflatoxin liver injury in weanling rats. Arch. Pathol. 1965;80:123-126.

Madhavan TV, Rao KS. Hepatic infarction in ducklings in aflatoxin poisoning. Arch. Pathol. U.S.A., 1966;LXXXI:520-524.

Kalengayi MMR, Desmet VJ, Sequential histological and histochemical study of the rat liver during Aflatoxin Blinduced carcinogenesis. Cancer Res. 1975;35:2845–2852.

Knipstein B, Huang J, Barr E, Sossenheimer P, Dietzen D, Egner PA, Groopman JD, Rudnick DA. Dietary aflatoxin-induced stunting in a novel rat model: evidence for toxin-induced liver injury and hepatic growth hormone resistance. Pediatr Res. 2015;78(2):120-7.

DOI: 10.1038/pr.2015.84.

Saad-Hussein A, Shahy EM, Shaheen W, et al. Comparative Hepatotoxicity of Aflatoxin B1 among workers exposed to different organic dust with emphasis on polymorphism role of glutathione s-transferase gene. Open Access Maced J Med Sci. 2016;4(2):312-318.


Legator MS, Withrow AJ. Aflatoxin: Effect on mitotic division in cultured embryonic lung cells. J. Assoc. Offic. Agr. Chemists. 1964;47:1007-1009.

Ong T, de Serres FJ. Mutagenicity of chemical carcinogens in Neurospora crassa. Cancer Res. 1972;32:1890.

Ong T. Aflatoxin mutagenesis in Neurospora crassa. In: Toxins' Animal Plant and Microbial. P. Rosenberg (ed.). 1978;791-799.

Gelbion HY, Worthan JS, Wilson RG, Friedman M, Wogah GN. Rapid and marked inhibition of rat liver RNA polymerase by aflatoxin B1 Science. 1966;154:1025.

King AMQ, Nicholson BH. The interaction of aflatoxin B1 with polynucleotides and its effect on ribonucleic acid polymerase. Biochem. J. 1969;114:679-687.

Sporn MB, Dingman CW, Phelps HL, Wogam GN. Aflatoxin binding to DNA in vitro and alteration of RNA metabolism in vivo. Science. 1966;151:1539-1541.

Floyd LR, Unama T, Busch H. Effects of aflatoxin B1 and other carcinogens upon nuclear RNA of various tissues in the rat. Exp. Cell Res. 1968;57:423-438.

Moule Y, Frayssinet C. Action de deux hepatocarcinogenes sur 1 activity RNA polymerase des Novales Isoles du foie. Bull. Soc. Chem. Biol. 1969;51:1544.

Sashidhar RB, Rao KSJ, Rao BSN. Effect of dietary aflatoxins in nicotinamide nucleotide synthesis in liver. Nutr. Rep. Int. 1989;39(5):1037.

Lin YC, Li L, Makarova AV, Burgers PM, Stone MP, Lloyd RS. Molecular basis of aflatoxin-induced mutagenesis-role of the aflatoxin B1-formamidopyrimidine adduct. Carcinogenesis. 2014;35(7):1461-1468.

DOI: 10.1093/carcin/bgu003

LeBreton E, Frayssinet C, Lafarge C, de Recondo AM. Food Cosmet. Toxicol. 1964;2:675.

Butler WH, Wigglesworth JS. The Effects of Aflatoxin B1 on the Pregnant Rat. British Journal of Experimental Pathology. 1966; 47(3):242-247.

DiPaolo J, Elis J. Erwin H. Teratogenic response by hamsters, rats and mice to aflatoxin B1. Nature. 1967;215:638–639.


Hayes AW. Mycotoxin teratogenicity. In: Toxins-Animal, Plant and Microbial, P. Rosenberg (ed.). 1978;739-758.

El-Nahla S, Imam H, Moussa E, Ibrahim A, Ghanam A. Teratogenic effects of aflatoxin in rabbits (Oryctolagus cuniculus) J. Vet. Anat. 2013;6:67–85.

Enwonwu CO. The role of dietary aflatoxin in the genesis of hepatocellular cancer in developing countries. The Lancet. 1984; 324(8409):956-958.

Groopman JD, Zhu JQ, Donahue PR, Pikul A, Zhang LS, Chen JS, Wogan GN, Molecular dosimetry of urinary aflatoxin-DNA adducts in people living in Guangxi Autonomous Region, People's Republic of China. Cancer Res. 1992;52:45–52

Wang L‐Y, Hatch M, Chen C‐J, Levin B, You S‐L, Lu S‐N, Wu M‐H, Wu W‐P, Wang L‐W, Wang Q, Huang G‐T, Yang P‐M, Lee H‐S, Santella RM. Aflatoxin exposure and risk of hepatocellular carcinoma in Taiwan. Int. J. Cancer. 1996;67:620-625.


Harrison JC, Carvajal M, Garner RC. Does aflatoxin exposures in the United Kingdom Constitute a Cancer risk. N.Y. Yorkshire Environmental Health Perspectives. 1993;99-105.

Unsal H, Yakicier C, Marcalis C, Kew M, Volkmann M, Zentigsaf H, Isselbacher KJ, Oztur M. Genetic heterogeneity of hepatocellular Carcinoma. Proceeding of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America. 1994;91:822-826.

Hamid AS, Tesfamariam IG, Zhang Y, Zhang ZG. Aflatoxin B1-induced hepatocellular carcinoma in developing countries: Geographical distribution, mechanism of action andprevention. Oncol Lett. 2013;5(4):1087–1092.

Smith LE, Prendergast AJ, Turner PC, Humphrey JH, Stoltzfus RJ. Aflatoxin exposure during pregnancy, maternal anemia, and adverse birth outcomes. Am J Trop Med Hyg. 2017;96(4):770-776.

DOI: 10.4269/ajtmh.16-0730

Gupta S. COVID-19, A pandemic viral pneumonia is a global disaster in 2020. Asian Journal of Advances in Research. 2020;3(1): 16-20.