[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: We report that chlorogenic acid (Chl) induces apoptosis of several Bcr-Abl-positive chronic myelogenous leukemia (CML) cell lines and primary cells from CML patients in vitro and destroys Bcr-Abl-positive K562 cells in vivo. In contrast, this compound has no effect on the growth and viability of Bcr-Abl-negative lymphocytic and myeloid cell lines and primary CML cells. Sodium chlorogenate (NaChl) exhibits 2-fold higher efficiency in killing K562 cells compared with Chl. NaChl also induces growth inhibition of squamous cell carcinoma (HSC-2) and salivary gland tumor cells (HSG), although at 50-fold higher concentration. NaChl inhibits autophosphorylation of p210(Bcr-Abl) fusion protein rapidly. We demonstrate that p38 phosphorylation is increased in Bcr-Abl-positive cells after treatment with NaChl and closely paralleled the inhibition of Bcr-Abl phosphorylation. NaChl did not increase phosphorylation of p38 in Bcr-Abl-negative cells including HSC-2 and HSG that are responsive to this compound, indicating that p38 activation by NaChl is dependent on Bcr-Abl kinase inhibition. Inhibition of p38 activity by SB203580 significantly reduced NaChl-induced apoptosis of K562 cells, whereas activation of p38 by anisomycin augmented the apoptosis. These findings indicate that inhibition of Bcr-Abl kinase leading to activation of p38 mitogen-activated protein (MAP) kinase may play an important role in the anti-CML activity of Chl.