Hallmarks of environmental insults

Cell. 2021 Mar 18;184(6):1455-1468. doi: 10.1016/j.cell.2021.01.043. Epub 2021 Mar 2.


Environmental insults impair human health around the world. Contaminated air, water, soil, food, and occupational and household settings expose humans of all ages to a plethora of chemicals and environmental stressors. We propose eight hallmarks of environmental insults that jointly underpin the damaging impact of environmental exposures during the lifespan. Specifically, they include oxidative stress and inflammation, genomic alterations and mutations, epigenetic alterations, mitochondrial dysfunction, endocrine disruption, altered intercellular communication, altered microbiome communities, and impaired nervous system function. They provide a framework to understand why complex mixtures of environmental exposures induce severe health effects even at relatively modest concentrations.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Antioxidants / analysis
  • Environmental Exposure*
  • Gastrointestinal Microbiome
  • Humans
  • Inflammation / pathology
  • Mutation / genetics
  • Oxidative Stress


  • Antioxidants