Intracellular MAPK (mitogen-activated protein kinase) signalling cascades probably play an important role in the pathogenesis of cardiac and vascular disease. A substantial amount of basic science research has defined many of the details of MAPK pathway organization and activation, but the role of individual signalling proteins in the pathogenesis of various cardiovascular diseases is still being elucidated. In the present review, the role of the MAPKs ERK (extracellular signal-regulated kinase), JNK (c-Jun N-terminal kinase) and p38 MAPK in cardiac hypertrophy, cardiac remodelling after myocardial infarction, atherosclerosis and vascular restenosis will be examined, with attention paid to genetically modified murine model systems and to the use of pharmacological inhibitors of protein kinases. Despite the complexities of this field of research, attractive targets for pharmacological therapy are emerging.

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