Sodium valproate: an old drug with new roles

Trends Pharmacol Sci. 2009 Oct;30(10):509-14. doi: 10.1016/ Epub 2009 Sep 15.


Sodium valproate, or Epilim, has been widely used as a broad spectrum, anticonvulsant drug for over 40 years and exhibits a good safety profile. Some of the actions of valproate arise from its more recently described histone deacetylase (HDAC) inhibitory properties and hence it can specifically modulate gene expression. There is now accumulating evidence that HDAC inhibitors may have potential in the treatment of CNS disorders and, in this context, valproate has much potential as a brain-penetrant, clinically available and well tested drug. This article reviews the pharmacology of this remarkable molecule, focusing on its actions as a neuroprotectant and hence with new potential in the treatment of neurodegenerative diseases.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Anticonvulsants / pharmacology
  • Anticonvulsants / therapeutic use
  • Histone Deacetylase Inhibitors / pharmacology
  • Histone Deacetylase Inhibitors / therapeutic use*
  • Humans
  • Neurodegenerative Diseases / drug therapy*
  • Neurodegenerative Diseases / metabolism
  • Neuroprotective Agents / pharmacology
  • Neuroprotective Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Valproic Acid / pharmacology
  • Valproic Acid / therapeutic use*


  • Anticonvulsants
  • Histone Deacetylase Inhibitors
  • Neuroprotective Agents
  • Valproic Acid