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AFLATOXINS

Definition

A group of extremely heat-stable mycotoxins, produced by strains of Aspergillus flavus and A. parasiticus, which exhibit fluorescence on UV irradiation. Aflatoxins are toxic to a wide range of eukaryotes. Cases of cancer have occurred in domestic animals and poultry fed with aflatoxin-contaminated foodstuffs, particularly groundnut and cereal feeds. Aflatoxins can affect the immune system, reducing resistance to infection and possibly increasing the risk of hepatocellular carcinoma due to hepatitis b virus infection. Aflatoxins inhibit mitosis in tissue culture systems and appear to act at many different sites in both the nucleus and the cytoplasm, inhibiting the synthesis of DNA, RNA and protein. In integrated tropical aquaculture farming systems, aflatoxins have reportedly been a problem when Aspergillus-infected poultry feeds and faeces are transferred to fish ponds.

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