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Toxicol Appl Pharmacol. 2007 Jul 1;222(1):122-8. Epub 2007 Mar 7.

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

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  • 1School of Public Health, Morrill I, N344, University of Massachusetts, Amherst, MA 01003, USA.


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.

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