Involvement of p38 MAPK in the Anticancer Activity of Cultivated Cordyceps militaris.
Am J Chin Med. 2015 Jul 24:1-15. Epub 2015 Jul 24. PMID: 26205966
Cordyceps militaris is a traditional Chinese medicine frequently used for tonic and therapeutic purposes. Reports from our laboratory and others have demonstrated that extracts of the cultivated fruiting bodies of C. militaris (CM) exhibit a potent cytotoxic effect against many cancer cell lines, especially human leukemia cells. Here, we further investigated the underlying mechanism through which CM is cytotoxic to cancer cells. The CM-mediated induction of PARP cleavage and its related DNA damage signal (γH2AX) was diminished by caspase inhibitor I. In contrast, a ROS scavenger failed to prevent CM-mediated leukemia cell death. Moreover, two signaling molecules, AKT and p38 MAPK, were activated during the course of apoptosis induction. Employing MTT analysis, we found that a p38 MAPK inhibitor butnot an AKT inhibitor could rescue cells from CM-mediated cell death, as well as inhibit the cleavage of PARP, formation of apoptotic bodies and up-regulation of the γH2AX signal. These results suggest that CM-mediated leukemia cell death occurs through the activation of the p38 MAPK pathway, indicating its potential therapeutic effects against human leukemia.