Toxicological Effects of Dietary Biogenic Amines
Miguel A. Alvarez.
Biogenic amines (BAs) are defined as low molecular weight organic bases with biological activity. They are formed and degraded as part of the normal metabolism of microorganisms, plants and animals, in which they have important physiological functions. In humans, BAs are involved in brain activity, the regulation of body temperature and stomach pH, gastric acid secretion, the immune response, and cell growth and differentiation etc. However, the consumption of foods with high concentrations of BAs can induce adverse reactions such as nausea, headaches, rashes and changes in blood pressure. The accumulation of BAs in the food matrix is mainly due to the presence of bacteria able to decarboxylate certain amino acids. The most common and powerful BAs found in food are histamine, tyramine and putrescine. Their contents vary, sometimes reaching over 2 g per kg. Histamine is the only BA for which maximum levels in food have been set, although general interest exists in reducing the presence of all BAs in all food products. This review discusses the toxic effects of BAs when ingested with food.
Keywords: Biogenic amines, food products, physiology, toxicology, microbiology, regulation
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