Acrylamide: a common food toxin related to physiological functions and health

Physiol Res. 2017 May 4;66(2):205-217. doi: 10.33549/physiolres.933381. Epub 2016 Dec 16.


Acrylamide (AA) is a highly reactive organic compound capable of polymerization to form polyacrylamide, which is commonly used throughout a variety of industries. Given its toxic effect on humans and animals, the last 20 years have seen an increased interest in research devoted to the AA. One of the main sources of AA is food. AA appears in heated food following the reaction between amino acids and reduced sugars. Large concentrations of AA can be found in popular staples such as coffee, bread or potato products. An average daily consumption of AA is between 0.3-2.0 microg/kg b.w. Inhalation of acrylamide is related with occupational exposure. AA delivered with food is metabolized in the liver by cytochrome P450. AA biotransformation and elimination result in formation of toxic glycidamide (GA). Both, AA and GA can be involved in the coupling reaction with the reduced glutathione (GSH) forming glutathione conjugates which are excreted with urine. Biotransformation of AA leads to the disturbance in the redox balance. Numerous research proved that AA and GA have significant influence on physiological functions including signal propagation in peripheral nerves, enzymatic and hormonal regulation, functions of muscles, reproduction etc. In addition AA and GA show neurotoxic, genotoxic and cancerogenic properties. In 1994, International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) classified acrylamide as a potentially carcinogenic substance to human.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Acrylamide / pharmacokinetics*
  • Acrylamide / poisoning*
  • Administration, Oral
  • Animals
  • DNA Damage*
  • Dose-Response Relationship, Drug
  • Food Analysis / methods*
  • Food Contamination / analysis
  • Food Contamination / prevention & control*
  • Humans
  • Kidney Diseases / chemically induced
  • Kidney Diseases / physiopathology*
  • Reproduction / drug effects*


  • Acrylamide