Methyl selenium-induced vascular endothelial apoptosis is executed by caspases and principally mediated by p38 MAPK pathway

Cheng Jiang, Ki Hwan Kim, Zaisen Wang, Junxuan Lü

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The induction of vascular endothelial cell apoptosis and inhibition of tumor-associated angiogenesis by selenium may contribute to its cancer chemopreventive effects. Here we examined the stress-activated/mitogen-activated protein kinases (p38 MAPK, ERK1/2) and protein kinase B/AKF as potential signaling mediators for apoptosis induction by a methylselenol precursor methylseleninic acid (MSeA) in human umbilical vein endothelial cells (HUVEC). Time course experiments showed that p38 MAPK hyperphosphorylation and ERK1/2 dephosphorylation occurred before the cleavage of procaspase-3 and poly(AOP-ribose) polymerase (PARP), whereas AKT dephosphorylation occurred after caspase activation. The p38 MAPK inhibitor SB202190 attenuated the MSeA-induced morphological changes and decreased DNA fragmentation and the cleavage of procaspase-3 and PARP in concordant proportions. The general caspase inhibitor zVADfmk completely blocked the MSeA-induced PARP cleavage and DNA fragmentation, whereas zDEVDfmk, an inhibitor for caspase-3-like activities, was nearly as effective for inhibiting apoptosis. In comparison, apoptosis induced by selenite in HUVECs was observed in the complete absence of an activation of the major caspases. Taken together, the data support p38 MAPK as a key upstream mediator for the methylselenol-specific induction of vascular endothelial caspase-dependent apoptosis, which is principally executed by caspase-3-like activities.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)174-183
Number of pages10
JournalNutrition and cancer
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Jan 1 2004


All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Medicine (miscellaneous)
  • Oncology
  • Nutrition and Dietetics
  • Cancer Research

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