Send to

Choose Destination
See comment in PubMed Commons below
Life Sci. 2004 Mar 26;74(19):2339-64.

MAP kinase signaling in diverse effects of ethanol.

Author information

Department of Medical Pharmacology and Physiology, School of Medicine, University of Missouri, Columbia, MO 65212, USA.


Chronic ethanol abuse is associated with liver injury, neurotoxicity, hypertension, cardiomyopathy, modulation of immune responses and increased risk for cancer, whereas moderate alcohol consumption exerts protective effect on coronary heart disease. However, the signal transduction mechanisms underlying these processes are not well understood. Emerging evidences highlight a central role for mitogen activated protein kinase (MAPK) family in several of these effects of ethanol. MAPK signaling cascade plays an essential role in the initiation of cellular processes such as proliferation, differentiation, development, apoptosis, stress and inflammatory responses. Modulation of MAPK signaling pathway by ethanol is distinctive, depending on the cell type; acute or chronic; normal or transformed cell phenotype and on the type of agonist stimulating the MAPK. Acute exposure to ethanol results in modest activation of p42/44 MAPK in hepatocytes, astrocytes, and vascular smooth muscle cells. Acute ethanol exposure also results in potentiation or prolonged activation of p42/44MAPK in an agonist selective manner. Acute ethanol treatment also inhibits serum stimulated p42/44 MAPK activation and DNA synthesis in vascular smooth muscle cells. Chronic ethanol treatment causes decreased activation of p42/44 MAPK and inhibition of growth factor stimulated p42/44 MAPK activation and these effects of ethanol are correlated to suppression of DNA synthesis, impaired synaptic plasticity and neurotoxicity. In contrast, chronic ethanol treatment causes potentiation of endotoxin stimulated p42/44 MAPK and p38 MAPK signaling in Kupffer cells leading to increased synthesis of tumor necrosis factor. Acute exposure to ethanol activates pro-apoptotic JNK pathway and anti-apoptotic p42/44 MAPK pathway. Apoptosis caused by chronic ethanol treatment may be due to ethanol potentiation of TNF induced activation of p38 MAPK. Ethanol induced activation of MAPK signaling is also involved in collagen expression in stellate cells. Ethanol did not potentiate serum stimulated or Gi-protein dependent activation of p42/44 MAPK in normal hepatocytes but did so in embryonic liver cells and transformed hepatocytes leading to enhanced DNA synthesis. Ethanol has a 'triangular effect' on MAPK that involve direct effects of ethanol, its metabolically derived mediators and oxidative stress. Acetaldehyde, phosphatidylethanol, fatty acid ethyl ester and oxidative stress, mediate some of the effects seen after ethanol alone whereas ethanol modulation of agonist stimulated MAPK signaling appears to be mediated by phosphatidylethanol. Nuclear MAPKs are also affected by ethanol. Ethanol modulation of nuclear p42/44 MAPK occurs by both nuclear translocation of p42/44 MAPK and its activation in the nucleus. Of interest is the observation that ethanol caused selective acetylation of Lys 9 of histone 3 in the hepatocyte nucleus. It is plausible that ethanol modulation of cross talk between phosphorylation and acetylations of histone may regulate chromatin remodeling. Taken together, these recent developments place MAPK in a pivotal position in relation to cellular actions of ethanol. Furthermore, they offer promising insights into the specificity of ethanol effects and pharmacological modulation of MAPK signaling. Such molecular signaling approaches have the potential to provide mechanism-based therapy for the management of deleterious effects of ethanol or for exploiting its beneficial effects.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]
PubMed Commons home

PubMed Commons

How to join PubMed Commons

    Supplemental Content

    Loading ...
    Support Center