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Antioxid Redox Signal. 2010 Dec 1;13(11):1763-811. doi: 10.1089/ars.2009.3074. Epub 2010 Aug 28.

Cellular stress responses, the hormesis paradigm, and vitagenes: novel targets for therapeutic intervention in neurodegenerative disorders.

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Department of Chemistry, University of Catania, Italy.


Despite the capacity of chaperones and other homeostatic components to restore folding equilibrium, cells appear poorly adapted for chronic oxidative stress that increases in cancer and in metabolic and neurodegenerative diseases. Modulation of endogenous cellular defense mechanisms represents an innovative approach to therapeutic intervention in diseases causing chronic tissue damage, such as in neurodegeneration. This article introduces the concept of hormesis and its applications to the field of neuroprotection. It is argued that the hormetic dose response provides the central underpinning of neuroprotective responses, providing a framework for explaining the common quantitative features of their dose-response relationships, their mechanistic foundations, and their relationship to the concept of biological plasticity, as well as providing a key insight for improving the accuracy of the therapeutic dose of pharmaceutical agents within the highly heterogeneous human population. This article describes in mechanistic detail how hormetic dose responses are mediated for endogenous cellular defense pathways, including sirtuin and Nrf2 and related pathways that integrate adaptive stress responses in the prevention of neurodegenerative diseases. Particular attention is given to the emerging role of nitric oxide, carbon monoxide, and hydrogen sulfide gases in hormetic-based neuroprotection and their relationship to membrane radical dynamics and mitochondrial redox signaling.

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