Pharmacological GSK-3 inhibitors are potential drugs for the treatment of neurodegenerative diseases, cancer and diabetes. We examined the antiproliferative effects of two GSK-3 inhibitors, lithium and SB-415286, on B65 neuroblastoma cell line. Treatment of B65 cells with either drug administered separately caused a decrease in cell proliferation that was associated with G(2)/M cell cycle arrest. Cell-cycle proteins such as cyclins D, E, A, cdk4 and cdk2 were up-regulated. Since lithium and SB-415286-induced G(2)/M arrest we studied changes in the expression of proteins involved in this phase, specifically cyclin B, cdc2 and the phosphorylated form of this protein (tyr15-cdc2). Both drugs increased the expression of tyr15-cdc2, thus inhibiting mitosis. On the other hand, SB-415286 increased the expression of SIRT2, involved in the regulation of proliferation. Moreover, cell-cycle arrest mediated by SB-415286 was accompanied by apoptosis that was not prevented by 100 microM of zVAD-fmk (benzyloxycarbonyl-Val-Ala-Asp-fluoromethylketone), a pan-caspase inhibitor. Likewise, GSK-3 inhibitors did not affect the mitochondrial release of apoptosis inducing factor (AIF). We conclude that inhibitors of GSK-3 induced cell-cycle arrest, mediated by the phosphorylation of cdc2 and, in the case of SB-415286, SIRT2 expression, which induced apoptosis in a caspase-independent manner.