The involvement of reactive oxygen species (ROS) and p38 mitogen-activated protein (MAP) kinase in TRAIL/Apo2L-induced apoptosis

FEBS Lett. 2002 Feb 13;512(1-3):313-8. doi: 10.1016/s0014-5793(02)02225-1.


To determine the apoptotic signaling pathway which tumor necrosis factor-related apoptosis-inducing ligand (TRAIL/Apo2L) induced, we investigated the contribution of reactive oxygen species (ROS), p38 mitogen-activated protein (MAP) kinase and caspases in human adenocarcinoma HeLa cells. Here we show that upon TRAIL/Apo2L exposure there was pronounced ROS accumulation and activation of p38 MAP kinase, and that activation of caspases and apoptosis followed. Pretreatment with antioxidants such as glutathione or estrogen attenuated TRAIL/Apo2L-induced apoptosis through a reduction of ROS generation and diminished p38 MAP kinase and caspase activation. The p38 MAP kinase inhibitor SB203580 prevented apoptosis through a blockage of caspase activation, although ROS generation was not attenuated. Furthermore, the pan-caspase inhibitor Z-Val-Ala-DL-Asp-fluoromethyl ketone fully prevented apoptosis, while neither ROS accumulation nor p38 MAP kinase activation were affected. Therefore, our results suggest that TRAIL/Apo2L-induced apoptosis is mediated by ROS-activated p38 MAP kinase followed by caspase activation in HeLa cells.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Apoptosis Regulatory Proteins
  • Apoptosis*
  • Caspases / metabolism*
  • Enzyme Activation
  • Enzyme Inhibitors / pharmacology
  • Estrogens / pharmacology
  • Glutathione / pharmacology
  • HeLa Cells
  • Humans
  • Imidazoles / pharmacology
  • Membrane Glycoproteins / metabolism*
  • Mitogen-Activated Protein Kinases / antagonists & inhibitors
  • Mitogen-Activated Protein Kinases / metabolism*
  • Pyridines / pharmacology
  • Reactive Oxygen Species / metabolism*
  • TNF-Related Apoptosis-Inducing Ligand
  • Tumor Necrosis Factor-alpha / metabolism*
  • p38 Mitogen-Activated Protein Kinases


  • Apoptosis Regulatory Proteins
  • Enzyme Inhibitors
  • Estrogens
  • Imidazoles
  • Membrane Glycoproteins
  • Pyridines
  • Reactive Oxygen Species
  • TNF-Related Apoptosis-Inducing Ligand
  • TNFSF10 protein, human
  • Tumor Necrosis Factor-alpha
  • Mitogen-Activated Protein Kinases
  • p38 Mitogen-Activated Protein Kinases
  • Caspases
  • Glutathione
  • SB 203580