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Member Research & Reports

Member Research & Reports

UAB Researchers and Team Investigate Seasonal Variation in Aflatoxin Levels in HIV Patients

In a recent study, Dr. Pauline E. Jolly, professor in the department of epidemiology at the University of Alabama at Birmingham, explained that the “association between aflatoxin exposure and alteration in immune responses observed in humans suggests that aflatoxin could suppress the immune system and work synergistically with HIV to increase disease severity and progression to AIDS.” Since no previous longitudinal study has evaluated exposure to aflatoxin (AF) among people who are HIV positive, Dr. Jolly and colleagues assessed temporal variation in AFB1 albumin adducts (AF-ALB) among Ghanaians with HIV, as well as the links between socioeconomic and food consumption factors.

[Photo: Dr. Pauline E. Jolly]

Assessing data from 307 HIV positive antiretroviral-naïve adults, the researchers studied AF-ALB levels at the time participants were recruited (baseline) and again after six months (follow-up 1) and 12 months (follow-up 2), noting age, gender, socioeconomic status (SES), and food consumption patterns. Using linear models, the effect of socioeconomic and food consumption factors on variations in AF-ALB levels was examined, after adjusting for covariates.

The study found that “AF-ALB levels (pg/mg albumin) were lower at baseline (mean AF-ALB: 14.9, SD: 15.9), higher at six months (mean AF-ALB: 23.3, SD: 26.6), and lower at 12 months (mean AF-ALB: 15.3, SD: 15.4). Participants with the lowest SES had the highest AF-ALB levels at baseline and follow-up 2 compared with those with higher SES. Participants who bought less than 20 percent of their food and who stored maize for less than two months had lower AF-ALB levels. In the adjusted models, there was a statistically significant association between follow up time and season (dry or rainy season) on AF-ALB levels over time (p = 0.04). Asymptomatic HIV-positive Ghanaians had high plasma AF-ALB levels that varied according to season, socioeconomic status, and food consumption patterns.”

Study results indicate that the safety of the population’s food supply must be made a priority, most especially for such vulnerable groups as HIV positive individuals.

Co-investigators in the study include Dr. Tomi Akinyemiju, assistant professor in UAB’s department of epidemiology; Dr. Inmaculada Aban, professor in UAB’s department of biostatistics; and Ms. Dnika Joseph, research assistant at Birmingham AIDS Outreach.

“Temporal Variation and Association of Aflatoxin B1 Albumin-Adduct Levels with Socio-Economic and Food Consumption Factors in HIV Positive Adults” was published in November 2015 in the journal Toxins.

Journal article: