The biology of p38 kinase: a central role in inflammation

Curr Top Med Chem. 2005;5(10):921-8. doi: 10.2174/1568026054985902.


The p38 kinase plays a central role in inflammation, and it has been the subject of extensive efforts in both basic research and drug discovery. This review summarizes the biology of the p38 kinase with a focus on its role in inflammation. The p38 kinase regulates the production of key inflammatory mediators, including TNFalpha, IL-1beta, and COX-2. In addition, p38 also acts downstream of cytokines such as TNFalpha, mediating some of their effects. The potential efficacy of p38 inhibitors may thus be greater than would be expected from the inhibition of the mediators alone. Inhibitors of p38 kinase are currently in development for the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis. The biological processes regulated by p38 kinase suggest a wide variety of additional potential indications.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Arthritis, Rheumatoid / therapy
  • Chemokines / metabolism
  • Cytokines / metabolism
  • Cytokines / physiology
  • Endothelium / cytology
  • Endothelium / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Inflammation / metabolism*
  • Inflammation Mediators / metabolism
  • Models, Biological
  • Osteoclasts / metabolism
  • Protein Isoforms / immunology
  • Protein Isoforms / metabolism
  • Signal Transduction / physiology
  • Tumor Necrosis Factor-alpha / metabolism
  • p38 Mitogen-Activated Protein Kinases / metabolism
  • p38 Mitogen-Activated Protein Kinases / physiology*


  • Chemokines
  • Cytokines
  • Inflammation Mediators
  • Protein Isoforms
  • Tumor Necrosis Factor-alpha
  • p38 Mitogen-Activated Protein Kinases