Most of the cells of the human body are constantly exposed to various types of external and internal stresses. To face these factors, cells have developed a wide range of molecular responses, the “stress pathways", which allow them to adapt to these situations.
Thus, stress pathways can be viewed as the plasticity mechanisms of the cells. However, in certain conditions, for example, when the stresses are too strong, or chronic, then the activation of such molecular pathways could be harmful for the human body homeostasis and functions. This can ultimately lead to pathological development, including cardiovascular diseases, cancers, neurodegenerative diseases or metabolic disorders (diabetes, obesity, atherosclerosis etc.). Thus, stress pathways can represent friends and foes for cells of the human body, depending of the physiological contexts.
Adding to that, stress pathways could be involved in some specific states of pathological development, for example for the escape of cancer cells to chemotherapeutic treatment. Then, inhibiting or stimulating central mediators of these stresses pathways represent interesting targets to, respectively, stop disease progression or enhancing human resistance to environmental stresses.