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Jpn J Pharmacol. 1999 Mar;79(3):369-78.

An inhibitor of p38 and JNK MAP kinases prevents activation of caspase and apoptosis of cultured cerebellar granule neurons.

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Neuroscience Research Laboratories, Sankyo Co., Ltd., Tokyo, Japan.


Both p38 mitogen-activated protein kinase (p38) and c-Jun N-terminal kinase (JNK) are known to play important roles in neuronal apoptosis. However, the relationship between these kinases and caspases, another key mediator of apoptosis, is unclear. In the present study, we investigated the possible effects of SB203580 [(4-(4-fluorophenyl)-2-(4-methylsulfinylphenyl)-5-(4-pyridyl)-i mid azole], an inhibitor of p38, on caspase activation and apoptosis of cultured rat cerebellar granule neurons. In granule neurons, SB203580 prevented apoptosis that was induced by lowering the concentration of KCl in the culture medium for 24 hr. SB203580 also prevented augmentation of caspase-3-like protease activity at 8 hr after the low KCl treatment. The IC50 values of SB203580 for both events were between 3 microM and 10 microM. Expression and phosphorylation of c-Jun, potently induced by low KCl treatment, were prevented by SB203580 at 10 microM. Z-Asp-CH2-DCB, a caspase inhibitor with anti-apoptotic activity, did not inhibit the induction and phosphorylation of c-Jun. Granule neurons displayed high levels of p38 and JNK activities. SB203580 inhibited not only p38 but also JNK activities extracted from granule neurons. These results suggest that activation of c-Jun by p38 and/or JNK mediates the activation of caspase in the low KCl-induced apoptosis in cerebellar granule neurons.

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