Ronald L. Melnick

National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, Durham, North Carolina, United States

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Publications (110)538.88 Total impact

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    Ronald L Melnick · Jerrold M Ward · James Huff
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    ABSTRACT: Evidence from studies in animals is essential for identifying chemicals likely to cause or contribute to many diseases in humans, including cancers. Yet, to avoid or delay the implementation of protective public health standards, the chemical industry typically denies cancer causation by agents they produce. The spurious arguments put forward to discount human relevance are often based on inadequately tested hypotheses or modes of action that fail to meet Bradford Hill criteria for causation. We term the industry attacks on the relevance of animal cancer findings as the "War on Carcinogens." Unfortunately, this tactic has been effective in preventing timely and appropriate health protective actions on many economically important yet carcinogenic chemicals, including: arsenic, asbestos, benzene, 1,3-butadiene, formaldehyde, methylene chloride, phthalates, tobacco usage, trichloroethylene [TCE], and others. Recent examples of the "War on Carcinogens" are chemicals causing kidney cancer in animals. Industry consultants argue that kidney tumor findings in rats with exacerbated chronic progressive nephropathy (CPN) are not relevant to humans exposed to these chemicals. We dispute and dismiss this unsubstantiated claim with data and facts, and divulge unprofessional actions from a leading toxicology journal.
    Full-text · Article · Oct 2013 · International journal of occupational and environmental health
  • K.B. Wallace · G.E. Kissling · R.L. Melnick · C.R. Blystone
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    ABSTRACT: Perfluorinated alkyl acids (PFAAs) represent a broad class of commercial products designed primarily for the coatings industry. However, detection of residues globally in a variety of species led to the discontinuation of production in the U.S. Although PFAAs cause activation of the PPARα and CAR nuclear receptors, interference with mitochondrial bioenergetics has been implicated as an alternative mechanism of cytotoxicity. Although the mechanisms by which the eight carbon chain PFAAs interfere with mitochondrial bioenergetics are fairly well described, the activities of the more highly substituted or shorter chain PFAAs are far less well characterized. The current investigation was designed to explore structure-activity relationships by which PFAAs interfere with mitochondrial respiration in vitro. Freshly isolated rat liver mitochondria were incubated with one of 16 different PFAAs, including perfluorinated carboxylic, acetic, and sulfonic acids, sulfonamides and sulfamido acetates, and alcohols. The effect on mitochondrial respiration was measured at five concentrations and dose-response curves were generated to describe the effects on state 3 and 4 respiration and respiratory control. With the exception of PFOS, all PFAAs at sufficiently high concentrations (> 20μM) stimulated state 4 and inhibited state 3 respiration. Stimulation of state 4 respiration was most pronounced for the carboxylic acids and the sulfonamides, which supports prior evidence that the perfluorinated carboxylic and acetic acids induce the mitochondrial permeability transition, whereas the sulfonamides are protonophoric uncouplers of oxidative phosphorylation. In both cases, potency increased with increasing carbon number, with a prominent inflection point between the six and eight carbon congeners. The results provide a foundation for classifying PFAAs according to specific modes of mitochondrial activity and, in combination with toxicokinetic considerations, establishing structure-activity-based boundaries for initial estimates of risk for noncancer endpoints for PFAAs for which minimal in vivo toxicity testing currently exists.
    No preview · Article · Aug 2013 · Toxicology Letters
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    Ronald L Melnick · James Huff
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    ABSTRACT: The leading 20th century proponent for primary prevention of environmental cancer was Dr. Lorenzo Tomatis, the former Director of the International Agency for Research on Cancer and founder of the IARC Monographs program. This paper is dedicated to the memory of Dr. Tomatis – eminent scientist, scholar, teacher, humanitarian, and public health champion - and includes many perspectives that he promoted throughout his career, with original quotations from some of his scientific writings on primary prevention of environmental cancer. Any attempt by us to simply summarize his views would only detract from the power and logic of his language. “Cancer still remains a mainly lethal disease. Primary prevention remains the most relevant approach to reduce mortality through a reduction in incidence”[1].
    Full-text · Article · Apr 2011 · Environmental Health
  • R.L. Melnick · M.J. Hooth

    No preview · Chapter · Jan 2011
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    ABSTRACT: In National Toxicology Program 2-year studies, hexavalent chromium [Cr(VI)] administered in drinking water was clearly carcinogenic in male and female rats and mice, resulting in small intestine epithelial neoplasms in mice at a dose equivalent to or within an order of magnitude of human doses that could result from consumption of chromium-contaminated drinking water, assuming that dose scales by body weight(3/4) (body weight raised to the 3/4 power). In contrast, exposure to trivalent chromium [Cr(III)] at much higher concentrations may have been carcinogenic in male rats but was not carcinogenic in mice or female rats. As part of these studies, total chromium was measured in tissues and excreta of additional groups of male rats and female mice. These data were used to infer the uptake and distribution of Cr(VI) because Cr(VI) is reduced to Cr(III) in vivo, and no methods are available to speciate tissue chromium. Comparable external doses resulted in much higher tissue chromium concentrations following exposure to Cr(VI) compared with Cr(III), indicating that a portion of the Cr(VI) escaped gastric reduction and was distributed systemically. Linear or supralinear dose responses of total chromium in tissues were observed following exposure to Cr(VI), indicating that these exposures did not saturate gastric reduction capacity. When Cr(VI) exposure was normalized to ingested dose, chromium concentrations in the liver and glandular stomach were higher in mice, whereas kidney concentrations were higher in rats. In vitro studies demonstrated that Cr(VI), but not Cr(III), is a substrate of the sodium/sulfate cotransporter, providing a partial explanation for the greater absorption of Cr(VI).
    Preview · Article · Dec 2010 · Toxicological Sciences
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    ABSTRACT: A novel physiologically based pharmacokinetic (PBPK) model structure, which includes submodels for the common metabolites (glyoxylate (GXA) and oxalate (OXA)) that may be involved in the toxicity or carcinogenicity of dibromoacetic acid (DBA), has been developed. Particular attention is paid to the representation of hepatic metabolism, which is the primary elimination mechanism. DBA-induced suicide inhibition is modeled by irreversible covalent binding of the intermediate metabolite alpha-halocarboxymethylglutathione (alphaH1) to the glutathione-S-transferase zeta (GSTzeta) enzyme. We also present data illustrating the presence of a secondary non-GSTzeta metabolic pathway for DBA, but not dichloroacetic acid (DCA), that produces GXA. The model is calibrated with plasma and urine concentration data from DBA exposures in female F344 rats through intravenous (IV), oral gavage, and drinking water routes. Sensitivity analysis is performed to confirm identifiability of estimated parameters. Finally, model validation is performed with data sets not used during calibration. Given the structural similarity of dihaloacetates (DHAs), we hypothesize that the PBPK model presented here has the capacity to describe the kinetics of any member or mixture of members of this class in any species with the alteration of chemical-and species-specific parameters.
    Preview · Article · Apr 2010 · Toxicology and Applied Pharmacology

  • No preview · Article · Jan 2010 · Toxicological Sciences
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    ABSTRACT: Hexavalent chromium [Cr(VI)] is a human carcinogen after inhalation exposure. Humans also ingest Cr(VI) from contaminated drinking water and soil; however, limited data exist on the oral toxicity and carcinogenicity of Cr(VI). We characterized the chronic oral toxicity and carcinogenicity of Cr(VI) in rodents. The National Toxicology Program (NTP) conducted 2-year drinking water studies of Cr(VI) (as sodium dichromate dihydrate) in male and female F344/N rats and B6C3F1 mice. Cr(VI) exposure resulted in increased incidences of rare neoplasms of the squamous epithelium that lines the oral cavity (oral mucosa and tongue) in male and female rats, and of the epithelium lining the small intestine in male and female mice. Cr(VI) exposure did not affect survival but resulted in reduced mean body weights and water consumption, due at least in part to poor palatability of the dosed water. Cr(VI) exposure resulted in transient microcytic hypochromic anemia in rats and microcytosis in mice. Nonneoplastic lesions included diffuse epithelial hyperplasia in the duodenum and jejunum of mice and histiocytic cell infiltration in the duodenum, liver, and mesenteric and pancreatic lymph nodes of rats and mice. Cr(VI) was carcinogenic after administration in drinking water to male and female rats and mice.
    Full-text · Article · Jun 2009 · Environmental Health Perspectives
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    Full-text · Article · Jan 2009 · International journal of occupational and environmental health
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    ABSTRACT: The widespread detection of perfluoroalkyl acids and their derivatives in wildlife and humans, and their entry into the immature brain, raise increasing concern about whether these agents might be developmental neurotoxicants. We evaluated perfluorooctane sulfonate (PFOS), perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA), perfluorooctane sulfonamide (PFOSA), and perfluorobutane sulfonate (PFBS) in undifferentiated and differentiating PC12 cells, a neuronotypic line used to characterize neurotoxicity. We assessed inhibition of DNA synthesis, deficits in cell numbers and growth, oxidative stress, reduced cell viability, and shifts in differentiation toward or away from the dopamine (DA) and acetylcholine (ACh) neurotransmitter phenotypes. In general, the rank order of adverse effects was PFOSA > PFOS > PFBS approximately PFOA. However, superimposed on this scheme, the various agents differed in their underlying mechanisms and specific outcomes. Notably, PFOS promoted differentiation into the ACh phenotype at the expense of the DA phenotype, PFBS suppressed differentiation of both phenotypes, PFOSA enhanced differentiation of both, and PFOA had little or no effect on phenotypic specification. These findings indicate that all perfluorinated chemicals are not the same in their impact on neurodevelopment and that it is unlikely that there is one simple, shared mechanism by which they all produce their effects. Our results reinforce the potential for in vitro models to aid in the rapid and cost-effective screening for comparative effects among different chemicals in the same class and in relation to known developmental neurotoxicants.
    Preview · Article · Jun 2008 · Environmental Health Perspectives
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    Paolo Vineis · Ronald Melnick
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    ABSTRACT: As Dobzhansky wrote, nothing in biology makes sense outside the context of the evolutionary theory, and this truth has not been sufficiently explored yet by medicine. We comment on Shanks and Pyles' recently published paper, Evolution and medicine: the long reach of "Dr. Darwin", and discuss some recent advancements in the application of evolutionary theory to carcinogenesis. However, we disagree with Shanks and Pyles about the usefulness of animal experiments in predicting human hazards. Based on the darwinian observation of inter-species and inter-individual variation in all biological functions, Shanks and Pyles suggest that animal experiments cannot be used to identify hazards to human health. We claim that while the activity of enzymes may vary among individuals and among species, this does not indicate that critical events in disease processes occurring after exposure to hazardous agents differ qualitatively between animal models and humans. In addition, the goal is to avoid human disease whenever possible and with the means that are available at a given point in time. Epidemics of cancer could have been prevented if experimental data had been used to reduce human exposures or ban carcinogenic chemicals. We discuss examples.
    Preview · Article · Feb 2008 · Philosophy Ethics and Humanities in Medicine
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    Ronald L Melnick · Kristina A Thayer · John R Bucher
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    ABSTRACT: Conflicting views have been expressed frequently on assessments of human cancer risk of environmental agents based on animal carcinogenicity data; this is primarily because of uncertainties associated with extrapolations of toxicologic findings from studies in experimental animals to human circumstances. Underlying these uncertainties are issues related to how experiments are designed, how rigorously hypotheses are tested, and to what extent assertions extend beyond actual findings. National and international health agencies regard carcinogenicity findings in well-conducted experimental animal studies as evidence of potential carcinogenic risk to humans. Controversies arise when both positive and negative carcinogenicity data exist for a specific agent or when incomplete mechanistic data suggest a possible species difference in response. Issues of experimental design and evaluation that might contribute to disparate results are addressed in this article. To serve as reliable sources of data for the evaluation of the carcinogenic potential of environmental agents, experimental studies must include a) animal models that are sensitive to the end points under investigation; b) detailed characterization of the agent and the administered doses; c) challenging doses and durations of exposure (at least 2 years for rats and mice); d) sufficient numbers of animals per dose group to be capable of detecting a true effect; e) multiple dose groups to allow characterization of dose-response relationships, f) complete and peer-reviewed histopathologic evaluations; and g) pairwise comparisons and analyses of trends based on survival-adjusted tumor incidence. Pharmacokinetic models and mechanistic hypotheses may provide insights into the biological behavior of the agent; however, they must be adequately tested before being used to evaluate human cancer risk.
    Preview · Article · Feb 2008 · Environmental Health Perspectives
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    ABSTRACT: 1,3-Butadiene and chloroprene are multisite carcinogens in B6C3F1 mice with the strongest tumor response being the induction of lung neoplasms in females. Incidence of brain tumors in mice exposed to 1,3-butadiene was equivocal. This article reviews the efforts of our laboratory and others to uncover the mechanisms of butadiene and chloroprene induced lung and brain tumor responses in the B6C3F1 mouse. The formation of lung tumors by these chemicals involved mutations in the K-ras cancer gene and loss of heterozygosity in the region of K-ras on distal chromosome 6, while alterations in p53 and p16 were implicated in brain tumorigenesis.
    No preview · Article · Apr 2007 · Chemico-Biological Interactions
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    ABSTRACT: Dibromoacetic acid (DBA) is a water disinfection byproduct formed by the reaction of chlorine oxidizing compounds with natural organic matter in water containing bromide. Male and female F344/N rats and B6C3F(1) mice were exposed to DBA in drinking water for 2 weeks (N=5), 3 months (N=10), or 2 years (N=50). Concentrations of DBA in drinking water were 0, 125, 250, 500, 1000, and 2000mg/L in the 2-week and 3-month studies, and 0, 50, 500, and 1000mg/L in the 2-year studies. Toxic effects of DBA in the prechronic studies were detected in the liver (hepatocellular cytoplasmic vacuolization in rats and mice) and testes (delayed spermiation and atypical residual bodies in male rats and mice, and atrophy of the germinal epithelium in rats). In the 2-year studies, neoplasms were induced at multiple sites in rats and mice exposed to DBA; these included mononuclear cell leukemia and abdominal cavity mesothliomas in rats, and neoplasms of the liver (hepatocellular adenoma or carcinoma and hepatoblastoma) and lung (alveolar adenoma or carcinoma) in mice. The increase in incidence of hepatocellular neoplasms in male mice was significant even at the lowest exposure concentration of 50mg/L, which is equivalent to an average daily dose of approximately 4mg/kg. These studies provide critical information for future re-evaluations of health-based drinking water standards for haloacetic acids.
    Preview · Article · Mar 2007 · Toxicology
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    ABSTRACT: The nervous system of the B6C3F1 mouse has rarely been a target for chemical carcinogenesis in the National Toxicology Program (NTP) bioassays. However, 6 malignant gliomas and 2 neuroblastomas were observed in B6C3F1 mice exposed to 625 ppm 1,3-butadiene (NTP technical reports 288 and 434). These mouse brain tumors were evaluated with regard to the profile of genetic alterations that are observed in human brain tumors. Alterations in the p53 tumor suppressor gene were common. Missense mutations were observed in 3/6 malignant gliomas and 2/2 neuroblastomas and were associated with loss of heterozygosity. Most of the mutations occurred in exons 5-8 of the p53 gene and were G-->A transitions, and did not involve CpG sites. Loss of heterozygosity at the Ink4a/Arf gene locus was observed in 5/5 malignant gliomas and 1/1 neuroblastoma, while the PTEN(phosphatase and tensin homologue) gene locus was unaffected by deletions. One of 2 neuroblastomas had a mutation in codon 61 of H-ras, while H-ras mutations were not observed in the malignant gliomas examined. Only 1 brain tumor has been reported from control mice of over 500 NTP studies. This malignant glioma showed no evidence of alterations in the p53 gene or K- and H-ras mutations. It is likely that the specific genetic alterations observed were induced or selected for by 1,3-butadiene treatment that contributed to the development of mouse brain tumors. The observed findings are similar in part to the genetic alterations reported in human brain tumors.
    Full-text · Article · Apr 2005 · Toxicologic Pathology
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    Ronald L Melnick · John R Bucher

    Preview · Article · Feb 2005 · Journal of Law and Policy
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    Ronald L Melnick
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    ABSTRACT: In the US Supreme Court's Daubert v Merrell Dow Pharmaceuticals, Inc decision, federal judges were directed to examine the scientific method underlying expert evidence and admit that which is scientifically reliable and relevant. However, if a judge does not have adequate training or experience in dealing with scientific uncertainty, understand the full value or limit of currently used methodologies, or recognize hidden assumptions, misrepresentations of scientific data, or the strengths of scientific inferences, he or she may reach an incorrect decision on the reliability and relevance of evidence linking environmental factors to human disease. This could lead to the unfair exclusion of valid scientific evidence, particularly that which is essential to a plaintiff's case in toxic tort litigation.
    Preview · Article · Feb 2005 · American Journal of Public Health
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    Ronald L Melnick · James Huff

    Full-text · Article · Jul 2004 · Environmental Health Perspectives
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    Ronald L Melnick · Charlotte Brody · Joseph DiGangi · James Huff

    Full-text · Article · Oct 2003 · International journal of occupational and environmental health
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    R.L. Melnick · J.R. Bucher · J.H. Roycroft · J.R. Hailey · J. Huff
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    ABSTRACT: Two separate workshops, one sponsored by the International Life Sciences Institute and the other by the MAK Commission, considered the utility of rat lung tumours produced by inhaled non-fibrous poorly soluble particulates (NPSPs) for predicting human cancer risk. Based on inhalation carcinogenicity studies of diesel exhaust, carbon black, titanium dioxide, silica, and talc, the workshops concluded that the carcinogenic effects of NPSPs of low acute toxicity 1) are confined to the lungs, 2) develop only in the rat, 3) result from chronic active pulmonary inflammation and epithelial cell proliferation at particle overload doses, and 4) occur by threshold mechanisms. New insights on these issues are revealed from inhalation studies by the National Toxicology Program (NTP) of gallium arsenide, indium phosphide, molybdenum trioxide, nickel oxide, nickel subsulphide, talc, and vanadium pentoxide. Although these chemicals produced varying degrees of toxic effects in the lung of rats or mice after 14 weeks or less of inhalation exposure, the collective results of the NTP 2-year inhalation studies provide an opportunity to examine relationships between tumour outcome and non-neoplastic lesions (chronic pulmonary inflammation and alveolar epithelial hyperplasia) that have been suggested to be causally associated with lung carcinogenicity of low toxicity NPSPs. The NTP studies show that NPSPs also induce lung tumours in mice and that carcinogenic effects can occur at sites beyond the lung. Frequently in the NTP studies, lung tumour incidences were consistent with a linear or superlinear dose-response and tumour induction occurred at or below current Threshold Limit Values. Further, the NTP studies show that chronic pulmonary inflammation and alveolar epithelial hyperplasia are not reliable predictors of lung carcinogenicity of NPSPs. Lung tumour responses resulting from inhalation exposure to NPSPs are not readily explained by threshold-based mechanistic hypotheses. Because the carcinogenic mechanisms of NPSPs are not well understood, future research is needed to identify the multiple factors that may contribute to the carcinogenicity of these agents and to characterize those properties that account for their different dose-response relationships. Increases in lung cancer risk among workers exposed to diesel exhaust or crystalline silica dust reflect the importance of using rodent carcinogenicity data on NPSPs for the development of sound public health policies aimed at primary disease prevention.
    Full-text · Article · Sep 2003

Publication Stats

3k Citations
538.88 Total Impact Points

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Institutions

  • 1983-2010
    • National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences
      • • Cellular & Molecular Pathology Branch
      • • Epidemiology Branch
      Durham, North Carolina, United States
  • 2005-2008
    • National Institutes of Health
      • Department of Environmental Health and Toxicology
      베서스다, Maryland, United States