Pharmaceutical Research

, 28:2680 | Cite as

Hormetics: Dietary Triggers of an Adaptive Stress Response

  • Marc BirringerEmail author
Expert Review


A series of dietary ingredients and metabolites are able to induce an adaptive stress response either by generation of reactive oxygen species (ROS) and/or via activation of the Nrf2/Keap1 stress response network. Most of the molecules belong to activated Michael acceptors, electrophiles capable to S-alkylate redox sensitive cysteine thiols. This review summarizes recent advances in the (re)search of these compounds and classifies them into distinct groups. More than 60 molecules are described that induce the Nrf2 network, most of them found in our daily diet. Although known as typical antioxidants, a closer look reveals that these molecules induce an initial mitochondrial or cytosolic ROS formation and thereby trigger an adaptive stress response and hormesis, respectively. This, however, leads to higher levels of intracellular glutathione and increased expression levels of antioxidant enzymes such as glutathione peroxidase, thioredoxin reductase, and superoxide dismutase. According to this principle, the author suggests the term hormetics to describe these indirect antioxidants.


adaptive response hormesis hormetics Nrf2 nutrition oxidative stress ROS 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Nutritional, Food and Consumer StudiesUniversity of Applied SciencesFuldaGermany
  2. 2.Department of Nutritional, Food and Consumer StudiesFulda University of Applied ScienceFuldaGermany

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