Ochratoxin A (OTA) is a mycotoxin present in food that can be found in human blood, due to its long half-life. Plasma OTA detection represents a good parameter for evaluating the exposure at the population level. The relation between plasma OTA levels, dietary habits, and specific disease risk biomarkers (body mass index (BMI), C-reactive protein (CRP), and cardiovascular risk score) was investigated. The study involved 327 subjects (150 men and 177 women) aged between 38 and 48 years. Food consumption was evaluated by means of the EPIC questionnaire; plasma OTA was measured by HPLC; CRP was determined in fresh serum samples by a latex particle-enhanced immunoturbidimetric assay. OTA was detected in 99.1% of plasma samples (LOD 25 ng/L); the mean +/- A SD value was 0.229 +/- A 0.238 ng/mL. However, only 5.2% of samples exceeded 500 ng/L, considered the threshold for a possible pathogenic activity. The estimated mean daily dietary intake of OTA resulted 0.452 +/- A 0.468 ng/kg body weight (bw)/day, markedly lower than the tolerable daily intake set by EFSA (17.1 ng/kg bw/day). Processed and mutton/lamb meat were found to contribute most to plasma OTA variance. Nevertheless, cereals, wine, beer, and jam/honey consumption correlated positively with OTA levels. Plasma OTA showed a significant positive association with CRP and cardiovascular risk score (beta = 0.20 +/- A 0.08; P = 0.015 and beta = 0.25 +/- A 0.08; P = 0.001, respectively); however, the association was present in men but not in women. Even if the hypothesis of a possible hepatic toxicity of OTA in humans is yet to be verified, the positive association between plasma OTA and CRP may indicate a possible role of OTA in inflammation status and consequently in the genesis of cardiovascular diseases and cancer.
- C-REACTIVE PROTEIN