p38 MAP kinases: key signalling molecules as therapeutic targets for inflammatory diseases

Nat Rev Drug Discov. 2003 Sep;2(9):717-26. doi: 10.1038/nrd1177.


The p38 MAP kinases are a family of serine/threonine protein kinases that play important roles in cellular responses to external stress signals. Since their identification about 10 years ago, much has been learned of the activation and regulation of the p38 MAP kinase pathways. Inhibitors of two members of the p38 family have been shown to have anti-inflammatory effects in preclinical disease models, primarily through the inhibition of the expression of inflammatory mediators. Several promising compounds have also progressed to clinical trials. In this review, we provide an overview of the role of p38 MAP kinases in stress-activated pathways and the progress towards clinical development of p38 MAP kinase inhibitors in the treatment of inflammatory diseases.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Drug Delivery Systems / methods*
  • Enzyme Inhibitors / therapeutic use*
  • Humans
  • Inflammation / drug therapy*
  • Inflammation / enzymology*
  • MAP Kinase Signaling System / drug effects*
  • MAP Kinase Signaling System / physiology*
  • Mitogen-Activated Protein Kinases / antagonists & inhibitors
  • Mitogen-Activated Protein Kinases / metabolism
  • Mitogen-Activated Protein Kinases / physiology*
  • p38 Mitogen-Activated Protein Kinases


  • Enzyme Inhibitors
  • Mitogen-Activated Protein Kinases
  • p38 Mitogen-Activated Protein Kinases