Biochemical and molecular aspects of mammalian susceptibility to aflatoxin B1 carcinogenicity

Proc Soc Exp Biol Med. 1995 Mar;208(3):213-27. doi: 10.3181/00379727-208-43852a.


Aflatoxin B1 (AFB1) is a fungal toxin that has been implicated as a causative agent in human hepatic and extrahepatic carcinogenesis. In this review, the mechanisms involved in AFB1 toxicity are delineated, in order to describe the features that make a specific cell, tissue, or species susceptible to the mycotoxin. Important considerations include: (i) different mechanisms for bioactivation of AFB1 to its ultimate carcinogenic epoxide metabolite; (ii) the balance between bioactivation to and detoxification of the epoxide; (iii) the interaction of AFB1 epoxide with DNA and the mutational events leading to neoplastic transformation; (iv) the role of cytotoxicity in AFB1 carcinogenesis; (v) the significance of nonepoxide metabolites in toxicity; and (vi) the contribution of mycotoxin-unrelated disease processes. Although considerable controversy remains about the importance of specific events, a great deal has been learned about biochemical and molecular actions of AFB1.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Aflatoxin B1 / metabolism
  • Aflatoxin B1 / toxicity*
  • Animals
  • Biotransformation
  • Cytochrome P-450 Enzyme System / physiology
  • Epoxide Hydrolases / physiology
  • Epoxy Compounds / metabolism
  • Genes, p53 / drug effects
  • Glutathione Transferase / physiology
  • Humans
  • Lung / metabolism
  • Neoplasms / chemically induced*
  • Proto-Oncogenes / drug effects


  • Epoxy Compounds
  • Cytochrome P-450 Enzyme System
  • Aflatoxin B1
  • Glutathione Transferase
  • Epoxide Hydrolases