Valproic Acid, a Drug with Multiple Molecular Targets Related to Its Potential Neuroprotective Action


Valproic acid (VA) is used worldwide as an antiepileptic drug and a mood stabilizer. Recently, VA was shown to act on cell growth, differentiation and apoptosis, by regulating gene expression at the molecular level, through epigenetic mechanisms. Thus, VA was demonstrated to act on the chromatin remodeling what is a consequence of the drug inhibition of histone deacetylases (HDACs) activity. Other studies uncovered the potential of VA to interfere with multiple regulatory mechanisms besides HDACs, as the GSK3 alpha and beta, Akt, ERK and phosphoinositol pathways, tricarboxylic acid cycle, GABA and OXPHOS system. The review focuses on the mechanisms of action of VA, showing that HDAC inhibitors, as VA, can be successfully used in the treatment of neurodegenerative disorders. This molecule, whose biological activities range from interactions with receptors and ion channels to the regulation of many catalytic reactions, has a central role in cellular cascades that regulate gene expression. Thus, inhibitors of HDACs, by positively affecting both neuronal degeneration and cognitive deficits, appear as promising drugs against various pathological conditions and neurodegenerative diseases. VA is known to present anti-inflammatory and antioxidative properties. And, since inflammation and oxidative stress are common links in neurodegeneration, VA is a drug that, from a clinical point of view, shows a great potential as a candidate for the treatment of neurodegenerative diseases related to excitotoxic events.

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J. Christian Machado Ximenes, E. Crisóstomo Lima Verde, M. da Graça Naffah-Mazzacoratti and G. Socorro de Barros Viana, "Valproic Acid, a Drug with Multiple Molecular Targets Related to Its Potential Neuroprotective Action," Neuroscience and Medicine, Vol. 3 No. 1, 2012, pp. 107-123. doi: 10.4236/nm.2012.31016.

Conflicts of Interest

The authors declare no conflicts of interest.


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