Aflatoxin exposure is inversely associated with IGF1 and IGFBP3 levels in vitro and in Kenyan schoolchildren

Jovita M. Castelino, Michael N. Routledge, Shona Wilson, David W. Dunne, Joseph K. Mwatha, Kimani Gachuhi, Christopher P. Wild, Yun Y. Gong

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

42 Citations (Scopus)


SCOPE: This study explores the relationship between aflatoxin and the insulin-like growth factor (IGF) axis and its potential effect on child growth.

METHODS AND RESULTS: One hundred and ninety-nine Kenyan schoolchildren were studied for aflatoxin-albumin adduct (AF-alb), IGF1 and IGF-binding protein-3 (IGFBP3) levels using ELISA. AF-alb was inversely associated with IGF1 and IGFBP3 (p < 0.05). Both IGF1 and IGFBP3 were significantly associated with child height and weight (p < 0.01). Children in the highest tertile of AF-alb exposure (>198.5 pg/mg) were shorter than children in the lowest tertile (<74.5 pg/mg), after adjusting for confounders (p = 0.043). Path analysis suggested that IGF1 levels explained ∼16% of the impact of aflatoxin exposure on child height (p = 0.052). To further investigate this putative mechanistic pathway, HHL-16 liver cells (where HHL-16 is human hepatocyte line 16 cells) were treated with aflatoxin B1 (0.5, 5 and 20 μg/mL for 24-48 h). IGF1 and IGFBP3 gene expression measured by quantitative PCR and protein in culture media showed a significant down-regulation of IGF genes and reduced IGF protein levels.

CONCLUSION: Aflatoxin treatment resulted in a significant decrease in IGF gene and protein expression in vitro. IGF protein levels were also lower in children with the highest levels of AFB-alb adducts. The data suggest that aflatoxin-induced changes in IGF protein levels could contribute to growth impairment where aflatoxin exposure is high.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)574-581
Number of pages8
JournalMolecular Nutrition & Food Research
Issue number3
Early online date25 Jan 2014
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2015


Dive into the research topics of 'Aflatoxin exposure is inversely associated with IGF1 and IGFBP3 levels in vitro and in Kenyan schoolchildren'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this