Ochratoxin A (OTA) as a carcinogenic of group 2B to humans is produced by various fungi strains as Aspergillus and Penicillium. It is one of the most common contaminant in foodstuff. OTA is nephrotoxic, hepatotoxic, teratogenic, and immunotoxic and is assumed to cause Balkan Endemic Nephropathy (BEN), a chronic kidney disease in humans when it is digested in combination with mycotoxin citrinin. The metabolism affects greatly the fates and the toxicity of a mycotoxins in humans, animals, and plants. The understanding of the metabolism of mycotoxins by the organism as fungi, yeast, bacteria and enzymes would be very helpful for the control of the contamination by the mycotoxins in foods and feeds, and understanding of the biotransformation of the mycotoxin in the body of humans, animals, plants, microorganisms would be beneficial to the risk assessment of food safety. In animals and humans, OTA can be metabolized in the kidney, liver and intestines. Hydrolysis, hydroxylation, lactone-opening and conjugation are the major metabolic pathways. OTalpha (OTα) formed by the cleavage of the peptidic bond in OTA is a major metabolite not only in animals and humans, but also in microorganisms and enzyme systems. It is considered as a nontoxic product. However, the lactone-opened product (OP-OTA), found in rodents, is higher toxic than its parent, OTA. (4R)-4-OH-OTA is the major hydroxy product in rodents, whereas the 4S isomer is the major in pigs. 10-OH-OTA is currently found only in rabbits. Furthermore, OTA can lose the chlorine on C-5 to produce ochratoxin B (OTB), and OTB is further to 4-OH-OTB and ochratoxin β(OTβ). Ochratoxin quinine/hydroquinone (OTQ/OTHQ) is the metabolite of OTA in animals. In addition, the conjugates of OTA such as hexose and pentose conjugates can be found in animals. Such more polar metabolites make OTA to eliminate faster. Currently, a debate exits on the formation of OTA-DNA adducts. Plants can metabolize OTA as well. OH-OTA methyl ester and OH-OTA-β-glucoside are formed in many plants besides OTα and OH-OTA. OTA can be biotransformed into OTα by some yeast strains. Fungi can produce some of the same metabolites as animals. OTα, OTβ, 4-R-OH-OTA, 4-R-OHOTB, and 10-OH-OTA are the metabolites in fungi. Several commercial enzymes are able to biodegrade OTA into the nontoxic OTα efficiently. This review on the metabolism of OTA helps to well understand the fate of OTA in different organisms, as well as provides very crucial information for toxicology and food safety assessments on human health.
Keywords: Ochratoxin A, metabolism, biodegradation, detoxification, toxicology, Balkan Endemic Nephropathy (BEN), citrinin, ochratoxin β, Ochratoxin quinine/hydroquinone (OTQ/OTHQ), OH-OTA- -glucoside, carcinogenic