Background: Cirrhosis of the liver is thought to be a major cause of morbidity and mortality in sub-Saharan Africa, but few controlled studies on the etiology of cirrhosis have been conducted in this region. Objectives: We aimed to elucidate the association between environmental and infectious exposures and cirrhosis in The Gambia. Methods: Ninety-seven individuals were diagnosed with cirrhosis using a validated ultrasound scoring system and were compared with 397 controls. Participants reported demographic and food frequency information. Blood samples were tested for hepatitis B surface antigen (HBsAg), hepatitis B e antigen (HBeAg), hepatitis C virus (HCV) antibody, HCV RNA, and the aflatoxin-associated 249ser TP53 mutation. Results: HBsAg seropositivity was associated with a significant increase in risk of cirrhosis [odds ratio (OR) = 8.0; 95% confidence interval (CI), 4.4-14.7] as was the presence of HBeAg (OR = 10.3; 95% CI, 2.0-53.9) and HCV infection (OR = 3.3; 95% CI, 1.2-9.5). We present novel data that exposure to aflatoxin, as assessed both by high lifetime groundnut (peanut) intake and by the presence of the 249ser TP53 mutation in plasma, is associated with a significant increase in the risk for cirrhosis (OR = 2.8; 95% CI, 1.1-7.7 and OR = 3.8; 95% CI, 1.5-9.6, respectively). Additionally, aflatoxin and hepatitis B virus exposure appeared to interact synergistically to substantially increase the risk of cirrhosis, although this was not statistically significant. Conclusion: Our results suggest that the spectrum of morbidity associated with aflatoxin exposure could include cirrhosis.
- Hepatitis B virus
- Liver cirrhosis
- The Gambia
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
- Health, Toxicology and Mutagenesis