Pharmacological inhibition of p38 potentiates antimicrobial peptide TP4-induced cell death in glioblastoma cells

Bor Chyuan Su, Jyh Yih Chen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Citations (Scopus)


Glioblastoma is the most common and deadly type of brain cancer. The poor prognosis may be largely attributed to inadequate disease response to current chemotherapeutic agents. Activation of p38 is associated with deleterious outcomes in glioblastoma patients, as its signaling mediates chemoresistance mechanisms. Antimicrobial peptide tilapia piscidin (TP) 4 was identified from Nile tilapia (Oreochromis niloticus) and exhibits strong bactericidal effects on Gram-positive and Gram-negative bacteria. TP4 also has anticancer activity toward human triple-negative breast cancer cells and glioblastoma cells. In the present study, we tested the cytotoxic effects of combined TP4 and p38 inhibitors on glioblastoma U251 cells. We found that the combination of TP4 and p38 inhibitors (SB202190 and VX-745) enhanced cytotoxicity in U251 glioblastoma cells but not noncancerous neural cells. Cytotoxicity from the combination treatments proceeded via necrosis and not apoptosis. Mechanistically, SB202190 potentiated TP4-induced mitochondrial dysfunction, reactive oxygen species generation and unbalanced antioxidant status, which resulted in necrotic cell death. Thus, we demonstrated for the first time that combinations of TP4 and p38 inhibitors have the potential to preferentially target glioblastoma cells, while sparing noncancerous neural cells.

Original languageEnglish
JournalMolecular and Cellular Biochemistry
Issue number1-2
Publication statusPublished - Jan 1 2020


  • Antimicrobial peptide, TP4
  • Mitochondrial dysfunction
  • Necrosis
  • p38 inhibitors

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Molecular Biology
  • Clinical Biochemistry
  • Cell Biology


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