The effect of aging on p38 signaling pathway activity in the mouse liver and in response to ROS generated by 3-nitropropionic acid

Ching Chyuan Hsieh, John Papaconstantinou

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36 Scopus citations


Since mitochondrial dysfunction is a major source of oxidative stress in aged tissues, we asked whether the basal activities of stress response signaling pathway(s) are indicative of oxidative stress in aged tissues. To address this issue we asked whether: (a) aging affects the basal activity of the p38 MAPK stress signaling pathway; (b) the p38 MAPK pathway is activated by 3-nitropropionic acid (3-NPA), an inhibitor of complex II (succinic dehydrogenase) and generator of reactive oxygen species (ROS); (c) aging affects the response of the p38α signaling pathway to 3-NPA. Our studies have shown that the basal kinase activities of p38α, its upstream activator, MKK3, and its downstream substrate, ATF-2, are elevated in livers of aged C57BL/6 male mice and that these kinase activities, which are induced by 3-NPA in young livers, do not occur in aged livers. Furthermore, although aging does not affect their protein pool levels there are specific increases in phosphorylation of threonine residues in the p38α and ATF-2 catalytic sites that might account for the increased basal level kinase activities in the aged livers. Our studies suggest that failure to respond to 3-NPA may be a factor in the susceptibility of aged tissue to oxidative damage, and support our hypothesis that aged tissues (especially liver) develop a state of chronic stress even in the absence of a challenge.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1423-1435
Number of pages13
JournalMechanisms of Ageing and Development
Issue number11
StatePublished - Sep 1 2002



  • 3-Nitropropionic acid
  • Aging
  • MKK3
  • Mouse liver
  • Oxidative stress
  • p38 MAPK

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Aging
  • Developmental Biology

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