Journal Article

The Hormetic Dose-Response Model Is More Common than the Threshold Model in Toxicology

Edward J. Calabrese and Linda A. Baldwin

in Toxicological Sciences

Volume 71, issue 2, pages 246-250
Published in print February 2003 | ISSN: 1096-6080
Published online February 2003 | e-ISSN: 1096-0929 | DOI:
The Hormetic Dose-Response Model Is More Common than the Threshold Model in Toxicology

More Like This

Show all results sharing these subjects:

  • Medical Toxicology
  • Toxicology (Non-medical)


Show Summary Details


The threshold dose-response model is widely viewed as the most dominant model in toxicology. The present study was designed to test the validity of the threshold model by assessing the responses of doses below the toxicological NOAEL (no observed adverse effect level) in relationship to the control response (i.e., unexposed group). Nearly 1800 doses below the NOAEL, from 664 dose-response relationships derived from a previously published database that satisfied a priori entry criteria, were evaluated. While the threshold model predicts a 1:1 ratio of responses “greater than” to “less than” the control response (i.e., a random distribution), a 2.5:1 ratio (i.e., 1171:464) was observed, reflecting 31% more responses above the control value than expected (p < 0.0001). The mean response (calculated as % control response) of doses below the NOAEL was 115.0% ± 1.5 standard error of the mean (SEM). These findings challenge the long-standing belief in the primacy of the threshold model in toxicology (and other areas of biology involving dose-response relationships) and provide strong support for the hormetic-like biphasic dose-response model characterized by a low-dose stimulation and a high-dose inhibition. These findings may affect numerous aspects of toxicological and biological/biomedical research related to dose-response relationships, including study design, risk assessment, as well as chemotherapeutic strategies.

Keywords: hormesis; biphasic; risk assessment; dose response; linear; threshold

Journal Article.  2946 words. 

Subjects: Medical Toxicology ; Toxicology (Non-medical)

Full text: subscription required

How to subscribe Recommend to my Librarian

Users without a subscription are not able to see the full content. Please, subscribe or login to access all content.