The effects of ochratoxin A on liver metabolism

  • J. Capraro
  • F. Rossi


This review summarizes the main toxic effect of ochratoxin A (OTA) on liver metabolism. This contaminant is a mycotoxin that can be found in raw materials (cereals, coffee, cocoa, spices or grapewine), in processed foods (bread and other bakery products) and, if animals are fed with contaminated feedstuffs, in pork meat. Kidney is a well-known target of OTA, although several findings suggest that liver metabolism can be affected too. OTA intake reduces, in a dose-dependent manner, the synthesis of albumin, while the concomitant increase in transaminases (ALT, ASP) and alkaline phosphatase is in agreement with the hypothesis of liver damage induced by OTA. Feeding animals with OTA-contaminated feeds has significant pro-oxidative effects that cause a reduction in anti-oxidative defences and an increase in malondialdehyde formation. Experiments on human liver cells support the hypothesis of an inflammatory effect of OTA mediated by TNF-α. An up-regulation of apoptosis has also been detected in hepatic cells after OTA treatment, which leads to a higher rate of cell death and to a reduction of liver activity. All these findings suggest that OTA can have a toxic effect on the liver too and for this reason we should pay attention to liver toxicity of OTA in the risk assessment for this mycotoxin.


Ochratoxin A Liver Toxicity Transaminases 



Alkaline phosphatase


Aspartate aminotransferase


Aspartate transaminase


Balkan endemic nephropathy




2,7-Dichlorofluorescein diacetate


The International Agency for Research on Cancer


γ-Glutamil transferase


Glutathione peroxidase


Glutathione reductase






Superoxide dismutase


Urinary tract tumours



This work was supported by a Grant from “Fondazione Enrica e Romeo Invernizzi”, Milano.

Conflict of interest



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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Facoltà di Agraria, Istituto di Scienze degli Alimenti e della NutrizioneUniversità Cattolica del Sacro CuorePiacenzaItaly
  2. 2.Dipartimento di Scienze Molecolari Agroalimentari, Facoltà di AgrariaUniversità degli Studi di MilanoMilanItaly

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