Molecular, Clinical and Environmental Toxicology

Volume 101 of the series Experientia Supplementum pp 551-564


Hormesis: Improving Predictions in the Low-Dose Zone

  • E. J. CalabreseAffiliated withDepartment of Public Health, University of MassachusettsDepartment of Toxicology, Environmental Health Sciences, University of Massachusetts Email author 

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This chapter explores the historical foundations of hormesis, including the underlying reasons for its marginalization during most of the twentieth century and factors that are contributing to its resurgence and acceptance within the toxicological and pharmacological communities. Special consideration is given to the quantitative features of the hormetic dose response, as well as its capacity for generalization. Based on subsequent comparisons with other leading dose–response models, the hormesis dose response consistently provides more accurate predictions in the below threshold zone. It is expected that the hormetic dose response will become progressively more useful to the fields of toxicology, pharmacology, risk assessment, and the life sciences in general, especially where low-dose effects are of interest.


Dose–response relationship Threshold model Biphasic dose response Homeopathy Inverted U-shape Adaptive response Nonmonotonic dose response