The Teratogenic Effect of Ochratoxin A in Rats
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Members of the fungal genera aspergillus and penicillum produce a variety of metabolites, many of which are toxic to animals and man. One of these metabolites, Ochratoxin A, is extremely potent. Ochratoxin A and fungi capable of producing this mycotoxin have been found in a variety of cereal grains and agricultural commodities including pecans, red and black pepper, hops, and cured ham. It is important to study the biological effects of this toxin since it enters the food chain of humans. The effect of daily oral doses of Ochratoxin A given to pregnant rats during the period of organogenesis at 0.25, 0.50, 1, 2, 4, or 8 mg/kg was studied. At the larger doses of 4 or 8 mg/kg, an acute toxicosis occurred in the dams and at 2, 4, or 8 mg/kg Ochratoxin A was embryocidal. At 1 mg/kg Ochratoxin A was both embryotoxic and fetotoxic. Althought most conceptuses from dams given 1 mg/kg Ochratoxin A were in the process of resorption, a few were still alive at gestation day 20. These pups were very small and presented evidence of gross skeletal immaturity. There was no evidence of maternal or fetal toxicity in rats given 0.25 or 9.50 mg/kg Ochratoxin A. It was concluded that Ochratoxin A has profound effects on reproduction in rats when given daily at doses as low as 1 mg/kg, but that, as tested in this study, it had a low order of teratogenic activity.