All living organisms need to adapt to ever changing adverse conditions in order to survive. The phenomenon termed hormesis describes an evolutionarily conserved process by which a cell or an entire organism can be preconditioned, meaning that previous exposure to low doses of an insult protects against a higher, normally harmful or lethal dose of the same stressor. Growing evidence suggests that hormesis is directly linked to an organism's (or cell's) capability to cope with pathological conditions such as aging and age-related diseases. Here, we condense the conceptual and potentially therapeutic importance of hormesis by providing a short overview of current evidence in favor of the cytoprotective impact of hormesis, as well as of its underlying molecular mechanisms.
Keywords: aging; hormesis; neurodegeneration; stress resistance; therapeutic preconditioning.