We first demonstrated that cordycepin inhibited cell growth and triggered apoptosis in U87MG cells with wild-type p53, but not in T98G cells with mutant-type p53. Western blot data revealed that the levels of procaspase-8, -3, and Bcl-2 were downregulated in cordycepintreated U87MG cells, whereas the levels of Fas, FasL, Bak, cleaved caspase-3, -8, and cleaved PARP were upregulated, indicating that cordycepin induces apoptosis by activating the death receptor-mediated pathway in U87MG cells. Cordycepin-induced apoptosis could be suppressed by only SB203580, a p38 MAPK-specific inhibitor. These results suggest that cordycepin triggered apoptosis in U87MG cells through p38 MAPK activation and inhibition of the Akt survival pathway.
Keywords: Cordycepin; U87MG cell; apoptosis; extrinsic pathway; p38 MAPK.