chapter  39
12 Pages

Valproic Acid

WithJames L. Schardein, Orest T. Macina

Valproic acid (VPA) has had therapeutic utility as a popular anticonvulsant for over 25 years, particularly for petit mal and complex absence seizures. It is also used as an antimanic and antimigraine agent. Its mechanism of action is by increasing the availability of γ-aminobutyric acid (GABA), an inhibitory neurotransmitter to brain neurons that enhances the action of GABA or mimics its action at postsynaptic receptor sites. VPA is available as a prescription drug by a variety of trade names, including Depakene®, Convulex®, and Mylproin®, among other names, and it is also available in the sodium valproate form as Depakine® and Epilim®, among other names. The drug is developmentally toxic in at least five species of laboratory animals. In the human, VPA has a history of adverse developmental effects. VPA is a smaller human developmental toxicant. It is a hydrophobic compound. VPA is of low polarity in comparison to the other chemicals. It can engage in hydrogen bonding.