Relationship between HMF intake and SMF formation in vivo: An animal and human study

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5-Hydroxymethylfurfural (HMF) is a furanic compound produced in heat-processed foods by nonenzymatic browning reactions. HMF has been demonstrated to be hepato- and nephrotoxic in animals with a link to its metabolite 5-sulfooxymethylfurfural (SMF). To date little is known about either the formation of SMF from ingested HMF or the formation of DNA adducts in animals or human beings.

Methods and results:

To assess SMF in vivo formation, we first performed a study in mice treated with high/low doses of oral HMF. We found increased concentrations of SMF in plasma and DNA SMF-adducts in leukocytes, hepatic tissue, and kidneys by means of LC–MS/MS, but no spatial formation in such tissues was observed by MALDI-MS imaging technology due to low sensitivity. In a second experiment, we measured the exposure to HMF in a Spanish preadolescent population. We analyzed the concentration of HMF metabolites (plasma, urine) and measured, for the first time, the presence of SMF in plasma and DNA SMF-adducts in leukocytes.


This study provides the first evidence that oral HMF is readily transformed into SMF in vivo, giving rise to the formation of DNA adducts in a direct relation with HMF intake, both in animals and human beings.

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