Aflatoxins are fungal metabolites found in feeds and foods. When the ruminants eat feedstuffs containing Aflatoxin B1 (AFB1), this toxin is metabolized and Aflatoxin M1 (AFM1) is excreted in milk. International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) classified AFB1 and AFM1 as human carcinogens belonging to Group 1 and Group 2B, respectively, with the formation of DNA adducts. In the last years, some epidemiological studies were conducted on cancer patients aimed to evaluate the effects of AFB1 and AFM1 exposure on cancer cells in order to verify the correlation between toxin exposure and cancer cell proliferation and invasion. In this review, we summarize the activation pathways of AFB1 and AFM1 and the data already reported in literature about their correlation with cancer development and progression. Moreover, considering that few data are still reported about what genes/proteins/miRNAs can be used as damage markers due to AFB1 and AFM1 exposure, we performed a bioinformatic analysis based on interaction network and miRNA predictions to identify a panel of genes/proteins/miRNAs that can be used as targets in further studies for evaluating the effects of the damages induced by AFB1 and AFM1 and their capacity to induce cancer initiation.
Keywords: AFB1; AFM1; aflatoxin; cancer.