Sodium valproate inhibits production of TNF-alpha and IL-6 and activation of NF-kappaB

Brain Res. 2000 Feb 28;857(1-2):246-51. doi: 10.1016/s0006-8993(99)02439-7.


Sodium valproate (VPA) is frequently used to treat epilepsy and convulsive disorders. Several reports have indicated that anti-epileptic drugs (AED) affect the immune system, but the mechanism has not been clear. We examined whether the commonly used AEDs, diazepam (DZP), carbamazepine (CBZ), phenobarbital (PB), phenytoin (PHT), and VPA, can inhibit activation of the nuclear transcription factor kappa B (NF-kappaB), in human monocytic leukemia cells (THP-1) and in human glioma cells (A-172). NF-kappaB is essential to the expression of the kappa light chain of immunoglobulin and proinflammatory cytokines. Electrophoretic mobility shift assays (EMSA) of nuclear extracts demonstrated that VPA inhibits NF-kappaB activation induced by lipopolysaccharide (LPS), but the other AEDs do not. Western blot analysis revealed that this inhibition is not linked to preservation of expression of IkappaBalpha protein. Chloramphenicol acetyltransferase (CAT) assay indicated that NF-kappaB-dependent reporter gene expression is suppressed in glioma cells pretreated with VPA. VPA significantly inhibited LPS-induced production of TNF-alpha and IL-6 by THP-1 cells, whereas other AEDs did not. The findings are consistent with the idea that VPA suppresses TNF-alpha and IL-6 production via inhibition of NF-kappaB activation. Our results suggest that VPA can modulate immune responses in vitro. These findings raise the possibility that such modulation might occur with clinical use of VPA.

MeSH terms

  • Anticonvulsants / pharmacology*
  • Cells, Cultured
  • Humans
  • Interleukin-6 / biosynthesis*
  • Lipopolysaccharides / pharmacology
  • NF-kappa B / drug effects*
  • NF-kappa B / metabolism*
  • Tumor Necrosis Factor-alpha / biosynthesis*
  • Tumor Necrosis Factor-alpha / drug effects
  • Valproic Acid / pharmacology*


  • Anticonvulsants
  • Interleukin-6
  • Lipopolysaccharides
  • NF-kappa B
  • Tumor Necrosis Factor-alpha
  • Valproic Acid