Aflatoxin is implicated as a risk factor for hepatocellular carcinoma in areas of the world with a high incidence of this tumor. The present study was designed to validate the use of aflatoxin-albumin adducts in peripheral blood as a measure of individual exposure to this carcinogen. Dietary intake of aflatoxin was measured at the individual level in 20 residents of Keneba, West Kiang, The Gambia, over a 7-day period and correlated with the level of aflatoxin bound to peripheral blood albumin at the beginning and end of the study. Complementary enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay and high-performance liquid chromatography-fluorescence techniques were used to assay the aflatoxin adducts. All subjects were exposed to aflatoxin originating from several food types, with an average daily intake of 1.4 micrograms/day. A significant correlation (r = 0.55; P = < 0.05) was observed between the dietary intake and the level of albumin-bound aflatoxin at the end of the study. In addition, a good agreement was obtained with the two analytical techniques. A comparison of matched chronic hepatitis B surface antigen carriers with noncarriers did not reveal any difference in adduct formation for a given dietary intake of aflatoxin. These studies demonstrate the validity of aflatoxin-albumin adducts as a marker of human exposure to this carcinogen.

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