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Spore-extracted toxins of the indoor mold Stachybotrys chartarum (SC) caused cytotoxicity (release of lactate dehydrogenase), inhibition of cell proliferation, and cell death in murine alveolar macrophage cell line MH-S in a dose- and time-dependent manner. Apoptotic cell death, confirmed based on morphological changes, DNA ladder formation, and caspase 3/7 activation, was detectable as early as at 3 h during treatment with a toxin concentration of 1 spore equivalent/macrophage and was preceded by DNA damage beginning at 15 min, as evidenced by DNA comet formation in single cell gel electrophoresis assay. The apoptotic dose of SC toxins did not induce detectable nitric oxide and pro-inflammatory cytokines (IL-1β, IL-6, and TNF-α) but showed exacerbated cytotoxicity in presence of a non-apoptotic dose of the known pro-inflammatory agent LPS (10 ng/ml). Intracellular reduced glutathione (GSH) level showed a significant decrease beginning at 9 h of the toxin treatment whereas oxidized glutathione (GSSG) showed a corresponding significant increase, indicating a delayed onset of oxidative stress in the apoptosis process. The toxin-treated macrophages accumulated p53, an indicator of DNA damage response, and showed activation of the stress-inducible MAP kinases, JNK, and p38, in a time-dependent manner. Chemical blocking of either p38 or p53 inhibited in part the SC toxin-induced apoptosis whereas blocking of JNK did not show any such effect. This study constitutes the first report on induction of DNA damage and associated p53 activation by SC toxins, and demonstrates the involvement of p38- and p53-mediated signaling events in SC toxin-induced apoptosis of alveolar macrophages.