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Mechanisms of ochratoxin A induced carcinogenicity
as a basis for an improved risk assessment

Contract number : QLK1-2001-01614
Contract type : Combined Project
Total cost : € 2.482.367
EC contribution : € 1.574.374
Starting date : 1/10/2001
Duration : 36 Months
Scientific Officer : Achim Boenke
Project website :
Prof. Dr Wolfgang Dekant
University of Würzburg
Department of Toxicology Versbacher Straße 9
97078 Würzburg
Tel.: +499312013449
Fax: +499312013865
E-mail: dekant @

Ochratoxin A is a mycotoxin which contaminates a variety of human food. In experimental animals, ochratoxin A is nephrotoxic and induces tumours, in the kidney, but also in other organs of rodents. In humans, exposure to high levels of ochratoxin A in diet has been linked with chronic renal disease (Balkan endemic nephropathy, interstitial nephritis) and an increased incidence of urinary tract tumours.


The objective is to elucidate mechanisms of ochratoxin A tumorigenicity, this project intends to quantify relevant biochemical endpoints in the toxicity and tumorigenicity of ochratoxin A. Individual projects will address the mechanisms of DNA-damage induced by ochratoxin A and the time course of ochratoxin A induced changes on the biochemical, cellular and morphological level during tumorigenesis. In addition to providing information on mechanisms of tumour induction by ochratoxin A, the project will also give relevant information on mechanisms of tumour induction, promotion and progression in the kidney. The major focus is to obtain information on the dose-response curve for ochratoxin A-induced toxic effects and the relevance of observations made in animals at high dose for human risk assessment.

(expected) Results and achievements

In the 1st year, methods for quantification of ochratoxin A induced effects will be evaluated, in the 2nd year samples will be generated and analysed in the 3rd year. An improved understanding of mechanisms resulting in DNA-damage by ochratoxin A and their role in tumorigenesis will be obtained. In addition, relevant information on tumour induction and progression in the kidney will be available after completion of the project.


Nestec S.A.
Nestlé Research Centre
P.O.Box 44
1000 Lausanne

The Imperial College of Science, Technology and Medicine
Department of Biochemistry
SW7 2AY London
United Kingdom

Institut National Polytechnique de Toulouse
Unité de Toxicologie et Sécurité Alimentaire
Ecole Nationale Supérieure Agronomique de Toulouse
Avenue de L'Agrobiopole
PO Box 107
31326 Auzeville-Tolosane

Istituto Superiore di Sanità
Laboratory of Comparative Toxicology and Ecotoxicology
Viale Regina Elena, 299
00161 Rome

Università degli Studi della Tuscia
Dipartimento di Agrobiologia e Agrochimica
Via San Camillo de Lellis S.N.C.
01100 Viterbo

Université de Lausanne
Institute of Physiology
7, Rue du Bugnon
1005 Lausanne

Fifth Framework Programme

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