Newswise — Today a team of researchers from the Department of Veterinary Medicine and Animal Production of the Federico II University of Naples, in collaboration with the Sbarro Health Research Organization (SHRO), at Temple University in Philadelphia, and the Department of Biotechnology at the University of Siena, Itay, has discovered the effectiveness of a new extract, of natural origin, able to prevent nephrotoxicity induced by the mycotoxin Ochratoxin A (OTA), and has published this research in the international Journal of Cellular Physiology.  

OTA represents a danger and a threat to human health and to various animal species. A well-known mycotoxin, OTA is a secondary metabolite produced by several fungal species, in particular from Aspergillus ochraceus and Penicillium verrucosum. It is one of the main food contaminants, especially in feed, cereals, coffee, wine, dried fruit, as well as meat products. Recent studies have also shown its presence in alfalfa, in food colors and even in bottled water. OTA is a somewhat ubiquitous mycotoxin, found in various parts of the world, accumulating in animal feed and food due to favorable climatic conditions in agricultural environments, or due to improper storage of food components. OTA proves to be nephrotoxic, hepatotoxic, immunodepressant, genotoxic and carcinogenic for humans and for various animal species. In fact, the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) has classified OTA as a possible carcinogen for humans (group 2B).

"OTA represents a worldwide problem, related to zoonosis for humans and animals," says Prof. Roberto Ciarcia, MV, associate professor at the section of Veterinary Pharmacology and Toxicology of the Department of Veterinary Medicine and Animal Production of the University of Naples Federico II, adding “this research carried out on an extract obtained from blood oranges and lemons rich in cyanidin 3-glucoside and other polyphenols opens new perspectives to limit kidney damage induced by OTA. 

"The kidney is the target organ of OTA that induces a morphological alteration both at the glomerular and tubular level as well as interstitial fibrosis," says Dr. Sara Damiano, first author of the study, who assessed the main oxidative stress parameters as well as the total function of the kidney, especially the glomerular filtration rate (GFR) through the clearance of inulin and at the same time has demonstrated the important protective effect of this extract. 

"The ability of the new natural extract to reduce nephrotoxicity is remarkable, as it normalized the activity of antioxidant enzymes and prevented the glomerular hyperfiltration often cause of kidney failure,” says Prof. Salvatore Florio, full professor of the Pharmacology section and Veterinary Toxicology of the Department of Veterinary Medicine and Animal Production of the University of Naples Federico II. “We hypothesize that this new compound may therefore be useful for scientific validation of specific natural food supplements to reduce the risk of exposure to OTA in order to improve food safety and minimize economic losses,” says Florio. 


About the Sbarro Health Research Organization

The Sbarro Health Research Organization (SHRO) is non-profit charity committed to funding excellence in basic genetic research to cure and diagnose cancer, cardiovascular diseases, diabetes and other chronic illnesses and to foster the training of young doctors in a spirit of professionalism and humanism. To learn more about the SHRO please visit

Journal Link: Journal of Cellular Physiology