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Open Access Open Badges Research article

Inability of Serotonin to Activate the c-Jun N-terminal Kinase and p38 Kinase Pathways in Rat Aortic Vascular Smooth Muscle Cells

Amy KL Banes1*, Robert D Loberg2, Frank C Brosius2 and Stephanie W Watts1

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Pharmacology and Toxicology, Michigan State University, East Lansing, Ml 48824, USA

2 Department of Internal Medicine-Nephrology, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, Ml 48109, USA

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BMC Pharmacology 2001, 1:8  doi:10.1186/1471-2210-1-8

Published: 8 October 2001



Serotonin (5-HT, 5-hydroxytryptamine) activates the Extracellular Signal-Regulated Kinase (ERK)/ Mitogen-Activated Protein Kinase (MAPK) pathways, in vascular smooth muscle cells. Parallel MAPK pathways, the c-Jun N-terminal Kinase (JNK) and p38 pathway, are activated by stimulators of the ERK/MAPK pathway. We hypothesized that 5-HT would activate the JNK and p38 pathways in rat vascular smooth muscle cells.


Results were determined using standard Western analysis and phosphospecific JNK and p38 antibodies. No significant activation by 5-HT (10-9 – 10-5 M; 30 min) of the JNK or p38 pathways, as measured by protein phosphorylation, was observed in any of these experiments. These experiments were repeated in the presence of the serine/threonine phosphatase inhibitor okadaic acid (1 uM) and the tyrosine phosphatase inhibitor sodium orthovanadate (1 uM) to maximize any observable signal. Even under these optimized conditions, no activation of the JNK or p38 pathways by 5-HT was observed. Time course experiments (5-HT 10-5 M; 5 min, 15 min, 30 min and 60 min) showed no significant activation of JNK after incubation with 5-HT at any time point. However, we detected strong activation of JNK p54 and p46 (5- and 7 fold increases in bands p54 and p46, respectively over control levels) by anisomycin (500 ng/ml, 30 min). Similarly, a JNK activity assay failed to reveal activation of JNK by 5-HT, in contrast to the strong stimulation by anisomycin.


Collectively, these data support the conclusion that 5-HT does not activate the JNK or p38 pathways in rat vascular smooth muscle cells.