The Yusho incident is an unprecedented mass food poisoning that occurred in Japan in 1968. It was caused by the ingestion of rice bran oil contaminated with polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) and various dioxins and dioxin-like compounds, such as polychlorinated dibenzo-. p-dioxins (PCDDs) and polychlorinated dibenzofurans (PCDFs). The victims of Yusho have suffered from characteristic skin manifestations associated with systemic, ophthalmological, and mucosal symptoms for a long period of time. The Study Group of Yusho (the Yusho Group) has been conducting annual medical check-ups on Yusho victims for more than 45. years. Since 2002, when concentrations of dioxins in the blood of Yusho patients started to be measured, the pharmacokinetics of dioxins, relationship between blood levels of dioxins and symptoms/signs in patients directly exposed to dioxins, and the adverse effects on the next generation have become dramatically clear. Herein we review recent findings of studies conducted by the Yusho Group to evaluate chronic dioxin-induced toxicity to the next generation as well as Yusho patients in comparison with a similar food mass poisoning, the Yucheng incident. Additionally, we summarized basic studies carried out by the Yusho Group to re-evaluate the mechanisms of dioxin toxicities in experimental models and various functions of the aryl hydrocarbon receptor (AhR), known as the dioxin receptor, pathway.
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