Springer Online Journal Archives 1860-2000
Abstract Autopsy brain (cerebrum) specimens from 18 kwashiorkor children and 19 children who had died from a variety of other diseases, at the Obafemi Awolowo Teaching Hospital complex, Ile-Ife, Nigeria, were analysed for the presence of aflatoxins using high-performance liquid chromatography. Aflatoxins were detected in 81%, 15 specimens in each group. More than one type of aflatoxin was detected in 14 (37.8%) of all the specimens. Aflatoxin B1 and its reversible metabolite, aflatoxicol, were detected in 11 brain specimens of patients with kwashiorkor and 6 of those who died of other miscellaneous diseases; out of these 6, two died from measles and its complications. The frequent detection of aflatoxins in the brains of these children and sometimes in multiple forms may suggest that aflatoxins are stored in the brain tissue which could be related to the lipophilic nature of these compounds. These findings also suggest that although many children in the tropics are exposed to aflatoxins, the accumulation of aflatoxin B1 and aflatoxicol in the brains of kwashiorkor children may be a result of an impaired metabolism of these compounds by these children.
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