Biological stress response terminology: Integrating the concepts of adaptive response and preconditioning stress within a hormetic dose-response framework

Edward J. Calabrese, Kenneth A. Bachmann, A. John Bailer, P. Michael Bolger, Jonathan Borak, Lu Cai, Nina Cedergreen, M. George Cherian, Juang-Ching Chiue, Thomas W. Clarkson, Ralph R. Cook, David M. Diamond, David J. Doolittle, Michael A. Dorato, Stephen O. Duke, Ludwig Feinendegen, Donald E. Gardner, Ronald W. Hart, Kenneth L. Hastings, A. Wallace HayesGeorge R. Hoffmann, John A. Ives, Zbigniew Jaworowski, Thomas E. Johnson, Wayne B. Jonas, Norbert E. Kaminski, John G. Keller, James E. Klaunig, Thomas B. Knudsen, Walter J. Kozumbo, Teresa Lettieri, Shu Zheng Liu, Andre Maisseu, Kenneth I. Maynard, Edward J. Masoro, Roger O. McClellan, Harihara M. Mehendale, Carmel Mothersill, David B. Newlin, Herbert N. Nigg, Frederick W. Oehme, Robert F. Phalen, Martin A. Philbert, Suresh I S Rattan, Jim E. Riviere, Joseph Rodricks, Robert M. Sapolsky, Bobby R. Scott, Colin Seymour, David A. Sinclair, Joan Smith-Sonneborn, Elizabeth T. Snow, Linda Spear, Donald E. Stevenson, Yolene Thomas, Maurice Tubiana, Gary M. Williams, Mark P. Mattson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

579 Citations (Scopus)


Many biological subdisciplines that regularly assess dose-response relationships have identified an evolutionarily conserved process in which a low dose of a stressful stimulus activates an adaptive response that increases the resistance of the cell or organism to a moderate to severe level of stress. Due to a lack of frequent interaction among scientists in these many areas, there has emerged a broad range of terms that describe such dose-response relationships. This situation has become problematic because the different terms describe a family of similar biological responses (e.g., adaptive response, preconditioning, hormesis), adversely affecting interdisciplinary communication, and possibly even obscuring generalizable features and central biological concepts. With support from scientists in a broad range of disciplines, this article offers a set of recommendations we believe can achieve greater conceptual harmony in dose-response terminology, as well as better understanding and communication across the broad spectrum of biological disciplines.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)122-128
Number of pages7
JournalToxicology and Applied Pharmacology
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Jul 1 2007


  • Adaptive response
  • Biphasic
  • Conditioning
  • Dose-response
  • Hormesis
  • Postconditioning
  • Preconditioning
  • Stress response
  • U-shaped

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pharmacology
  • Toxicology


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