Apoptosis of macrophages induced by Trichomonas vaginalis through the phosphorylation of p38 mitogen-activated protein kinase that locates at downstream of mitochondria-dependent caspase activation

Jae Ho Chang, Soo Ki Kim, In Hong Choi, Sang Kyou Lee, Tomohiro Morio, Eun Ju Chang

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Trichomonas vaginalis, a flagellated protozoan parasite, is the causative organism of trichomoniasis. We have recently demonstrated that T. vaginalis induces apoptotic cell death via a Bcl-xL-dependent pathway in RAW264.7 macrophages. In this study, we attempted to characterize in detail the signaling cascades resulting in T. vaginalis-induced macrophage apoptosis, focusing particularly on mitochondrial changes and the role of p38 mitogen-activated protein kinase (p38 MAPK) activation. We found that T. vaginalis induced mitochondrial changes including the release of cytochrome c and the serial activation of caspases, leading to the activation of p38 MAPK in macrophages. These biochemical changes culminated in the apoptosis of the host cells. Caspase inhibitors induced a significant inhibition of T. vaginalis-induced nuclear damage, as well as the activation of p38 MAPK. Treatment with the p38 MAPK inhibitor, SB203580, or the overexpression of kinase-inactive p38 MAPK, induced an attenuation of T. vaginalis-induced apoptosis but not cytochrome c release, the activation of caspase-9 and caspase-3, or PARP cleavage. Furthermore, SB203580 treatment to human macrophages consistently blocked T. vaginalis-induced apoptosis. Collectively, our findings indicate that p38 MAPK signaling cascade is requisite to apoptosis of T. vaginalis-infected macrophage, and this apoptotic process occurs via the phosphorylation of p38 MAPK, which is located downstream of mitochondria- dependent caspase activation, conferring insight into the plausible molecular mechanism of T. vaginalis-immune evasion from macrophage attack.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)638-647
Number of pages10
JournalInternational Journal of Biochemistry and Cell Biology
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2006 Jan 26


All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Biochemistry
  • Cell Biology

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