Evaluating the evidence for non-monotonic dose-response relationships: A systematic literature review and (re-)analysis ofin vivotoxicity data in the area of food safety
This study aims to evaluate the evidence for the existence of non-monotonic dose-responses (NMDRs) of substances in the area of food safety. This review was performed following the systematic review methodology with the aim to identify in vivo studies published between January 2002 and February 2015 containing evidence for potential NMDRs. Inclusion and reliability criteria were defined and used to select relevant and reliable studies. A set of six checkpoints was developed to establish the likelihood that the data retrieved contained evidence for NMDR. In this review, 49 in vivo studies were identified as relevant and reliable, of which 42 were used for dose-response analysis. These studies contained 179 in vivo dose-response datasets with at least five dose groups (and a control group) as fewer doses cannot provide evidence for NMDR. These datasets were extracted and analyzed using the PROAST software package. The resulting dose-response relationships were evaluated for possible evidence of NMDRs by applying the six checkpoints. In total, 10 out of the 179 in vivo datasets fulfilled all six checkpoints. While these datasets could be considered as providing evidence for NMDR, replicated studies would still be needed to check if the results can be reproduced to rule out that the non-monotonicity was caused by incidental anomalies in that specific study. This approach, combining a systematic review with a set of checkpoints, is new and appears useful for future evaluations of the dose response datasets regarding evidence of non-monotonicity.