Oxidative stress adaptation, or hormesis, is an important mechanism by which cells and organisms respond to, and cope with, environmental and physiological shifts in the level of oxidative stress. Most studies of oxidative stress adaption have been limited to adaptation induced by acute stress. In contrast, many if not most environmental and physiological stresses are either repeated or chronic. In this study we find that both cultured mammalian cells and the fruit fly Drosophila melanogaster are capable of adapting to chronic or repeated stress by upregulating protective systems, such as their proteasomal proteolytic capacity to remove oxidized proteins. Repeated stress adaptation resulted in significant extension of adaptive responses. Repeated stresses must occur at sufficiently long intervals, however (12-h or more for MEF cells and 7 days or more for flies), for adaptation to be successful, and the levels of both repeated and chronic stress must be lower than is optimal for adaptation to acute stress. Regrettably, regimens of adaptation to both repeated and chronic stress that were successful for short-term survival in Drosophila nevertheless also caused significant reductions in life span for the flies. Thus, although both repeated and chronic stress can be tolerated, they may result in a shorter life.
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