Current state of yusho and prospects for therapeutic strategies

Chikage Mitoma, Hiroshi Uchi, Kiyomi Tsukimori, Takashi Todaka, Jumboku Kajiwara, Takayuki Shimose, Manabu Akahane, Tomoaki Imamura, Masutaka Furue

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Citations (Scopus)


The mass food poisoning incident yusho occurred in Japan in 1968. It was caused by the ingestion of rice bran oil contaminated with polychlorinated biphenyls and various dioxins and dioxin-like compounds including polychlorinated dibenzo-p-dioxins and polychlorinated dibenzofurans (PCDFs). Notably, PCDFs were found to contribute to approximately 65% of the total toxicity equivalent in the blood of yusho patients. Lipophilic dioxins are retained in the body for a longer period than previously estimated. Victims suffered from characteristic skin manifestations associated with non-specific systemic symptoms, neurological symptoms, and respiratory symptoms. The severe symptoms seen in the initial phase subsequently faded, but recently, improvements have scarcely been observed. The Yusho Group has been researching treatments for this condition. Several clinical trials with chelating agents or dietary fibers aimed at accelerating the excretion of compounds. While some treatments increased dioxin excretion, none provided satisfactory symptom relief. Concurrently, various phytochemicals and herbal extracts have been found to possess biological activities that suppress dioxin-induced toxicity via aryl hydrocarbon receptor or activate the antioxidant nuclear factor-erythroid 2-related factor-2 (NRF2) signal pathway, making them promising therapeutic candidates. Here, we summarize the current status of yusho and findings of clinical trials for yusho patients and discuss the treatment prospects.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)16472-16480
Number of pages9
JournalEnvironmental Science and Pollution Research
Issue number17
Publication statusPublished - Jun 1 2018

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Environmental Chemistry
  • Pollution
  • Health, Toxicology and Mutagenesis


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