Epigenetic treatments of adult rats promote recovery from visual acuity deficits induced by long-term monocular deprivation

Eur J Neurosci. 2010 Jun;31(12):2185-92. doi: 10.1111/j.1460-9568.2010.07261.x. Epub 2010 Jun 14.


In mammals the development of the visual system may be altered during a sensitive period by modifying the visual input to one or both eyes. These plastic processes are reduced after the end of the sensitive period. It has been proposed that reduced levels of plasticity are at the basis of the lack of recovery from early visual deprivation observed in adult animals. A developmental downregulation of experience-dependent regulation of histone acetylation has recently been found to be involved in closing the sensitive period. Therefore, we tested whether pharmacological epigenetic treatments increasing histone acetylation could be used to reverse visual acuity deficits induced by long-term monocular deprivation initiated during the sensitive period. We found that chronic intraperitoneal administration of valproic acid or sodium butyrate (two different histone deacetylases inhibitors) to long-term monocularly deprived adult rats coupled with reverse lid-suturing caused a complete recovery of visual acuity, tested electrophysiologically and behaviorally. Thus, manipulations of the epigenetic machinery can be used to promote functional recovery from early alterations of sensory input in the adult cortex.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Behavior, Animal / physiology
  • Enzyme Inhibitors / pharmacology
  • Epigenesis, Genetic*
  • Evoked Potentials, Visual / physiology
  • Histone Deacetylase Inhibitors / pharmacology
  • Histones / metabolism
  • Rats
  • Rats, Long-Evans
  • Sensory Deprivation / physiology*
  • Valproic Acid / pharmacology
  • Vision, Ocular / drug effects
  • Vision, Ocular / physiology*
  • Visual Acuity / drug effects
  • Visual Acuity / physiology*


  • Enzyme Inhibitors
  • Histone Deacetylase Inhibitors
  • Histones
  • Valproic Acid