Dietary clay in the chemoprevention of aflatoxin-induced disease

Author(s): Phillips TD


Aflatoxins are harmful by-products of mold growth and, though invisible to the naked eye, are potentially fatal. The aflatoxin problem is long-standing and inextricable. Concerns about the aflatoxins originate from the strong implications of their involvement in disease and death in humans and animals, yet scientists and clinicians are still seeking ways to effectively deal with these dangerous and elusive chemicals. Safe, practical, and effective strategies for the detoxification of aflatoxin-contaminated food and feed are highly desirable. A simple and effective approach to the chemoprevention of aflatoxicosis has been to diminish or block exposure to aflatoxins via the inclusion of HSCAS clay in the diet. HSCAS clay acts as an aflatoxin enterosorbent that tightly and selectively binds these poisons in the gastrointestinal tract of animals, decreasing their bioavailability and associated toxicities. Further studies to delineate the molecular mechanisms of action have shown that the dicarbonyl system of aflatoxin is essential for tight binding by HSCAS. In these studies, adsorption data was fitted to multiple isotherm equations including the Langmuir, multi-Langmuir, general Freundlich, Langmuir-Freundlich, Toth and various transforms. Information derived included: the Gibbs standard free energy change of adsorption, enthalpy of adsorption, capacity, affinity, and heterogeneity coefficient. Computer modeling was also utilized to provide additional structural information and insight into the mechanism. Evidence suggests that aflatoxins may react at multiple sites on HSCAS particles, especially the interlayer region, but also at edges and basal surfaces. Since clay and zeolitic minerals comprise a broad family of functionally diverse chemicals, there may be significant hidden risks associated with their indiscriminate inclusion in the diet. All aflatoxin binding agents should be rigorously tested, paying particular attention to their effectiveness and safety in aflatoxin-sensitive animals and their potential for interactions with critical nutrients.

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