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p38 Mitogen-activated protein kinase modulates exocrine secretion in rabbit lacrimal gland


The lacrimal gland (LG) is an exocrine gland important for secretion of the tear film. The kinase p38 has important signal transduction functions, e.g. in gene transcription, but has previously not been known to modulate exocrine secretion. The aim of the current study was to investigate the role of p38 in carbachol (Cch)-induced LG secretion in LG acinar cells in vitro. Western blotting was used to determine the phosphorylation status of p38 and p42/44 and determine expression of p38 isoforms. To determine the effect of p38 inhibition on LG secretion, PD 169316, a general p38 inhibitor, and SB 239063, an inhibitor of p38α and β, were added to the cells prior to secretion measurements. The results revealed activation of p38 mediated by Cch stimulation and inhibition of Cch-induced secretion as a result of p38 inhibition. The inhibition was observed with PD 169316 isoforms, but not with SB 239063. The p38δ isoform was shown to have robust expression both by Western blotting of acinar cells and immunofluorescence of the whole gland. In conclusion, p38 activation mediates secretion in cholinergic stimulation of rabbit LG cells.





c-jun N-terminal kinase



IP3 :

inositol triphosphate


lacrimal gland


mitogen-activated protein kinase


phosphate buffered saline


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Correspondence to Stina K. Carlsson.

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Carlsson, S.K., Gierow, J.P. p38 Mitogen-activated protein kinase modulates exocrine secretion in rabbit lacrimal gland. Cell Mol Biol Lett 17, 1–10 (2012).

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Key words

  • p38 mitogen-activated protein kinase
  • Lacrimal gland
  • Exocrine glands
  • Signal transduction
  • Cholinergic receptors