Application of a Key Events Dose-Response Analysis to Nutrients: A Case Study with Vitamin A (Retinol)

Ross C, Russell R, Miller S, Munro I, Rodricks J, Yetley E & Julien E

DOI: 10.1080/10408390903098749

Abstract: The methodology used to establish tolerable upper intake levels (UL) for nutrients borrows heavily from risk assessment methods used by toxicologists. Empirical data are used to identify intake levels associated with adverse effects, and Uncertainty Factors (UF) are applied to establish ULs, which in turn inform public health decisions and standards. Use of UFs reflects lack of knowledge regarding the biological events that underlie response to the intake of a given nutrient, and also regarding the sources of variability in that response. In this paper, the Key Events Dose-Response Framework (KEDRF) is used to systematically consider the major biological steps that lead from the intake of the preformed vitamin A to excess systemic levels, and subsequently to increased risk of adverse effects. Each step is examined with regard to factors that influence whether there is progression toward the adverse effect of concern. The role of homeostatic mechanisms is discussed, along with the types of research needed to improve understanding of dose-response for vitamin A. This initial analysis illustrates the potential of the KEDRF as a useful analytical tool for integrating current knowledge regarding dose-response, generating questions that will focus future research efforts, and clarifying how improved knowledge and data could be used to reduce reliance on UFs.

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