What is hormesis and its relevance to healthy aging and longevity?

Biogerontology. 2015 Dec;16(6):693-707. doi: 10.1007/s10522-015-9601-0. Epub 2015 Sep 8.


This paper provides a broad overview of hormesis, a specific type of biphasic dose response, its historical and scientific foundations as well as its biomedical applications, especially with respect to aging. Hormesis is a fundamental component of adaptability, neutralizing many endogenous and environmental challenges by toxic agents, thereby enhancing survival. Hormesis is highly conserved, broadly generalizable, and pleiotrophic, being independent of biological model, endpoint measured, inducing agent, level of biological organization and mechanism. The low dose stimulatory hormetic response has specific characteristics which defines both the quantitative features of biological plasticity and the potential for maximum biological performance, thereby estimating the limits to which numerous medical and pharmacological interventions may affect humans. The substantial degrading of some hormetic processes in the aged may profoundly reduce the capacity to respond effectively to numerous environmental/ischemic and other stressors leading to compromised health, disease and, ultimately, defining the bounds of longevity.

Keywords: Adaptive response; Aging; Biphasic; Dose–response; Hormesis; Preconditioning.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adaptation, Physiological
  • Aged
  • Aging / physiology*
  • Animals
  • Hormesis / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Ischemic Preconditioning
  • Longevity / physiology*