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A Method to Evaluate Hormesis in Nanoparticle Dose-Responses

Nascarella MA, Calabrese EJ. A method to evaluate hormesis in nanoparticle dose-responses. Dose Response. 2012;10(3):344-354.


The term hormesis describes a dose-response relationship that is characterized by a response that is opposite above and below the toxicological or pharmacological threshold. Previous reports have shown that this relationship is ubiquitous in the response of pharmaceuticals, metals, organic chemicals, radiation, and physical stressor agents. Recent reports have also indicated that certain nanoparticles (NPs) may also exhibit a hormetic dose-response. We describe the application of three previously described methods to quantify the magnitude of the hormetic biphasic dose-responses in nanotoxicology studies. This methodology is useful in screening assays that attempt to parse the observed toxicological dose-response data into categories based on the magnitude of hormesis in the evaluation of NPs. For example, these methods may be used to quickly identify NP induced hormetic responses that are either desirably enhanced (e.g., neuronal cell viability) or undesirably stimulated (e.g., low dose stimulation of tumor cells).