Peripheral injection with a high dose of valproic acid (VPA), a histone deacetylase (HDAC) inhibitor, into animals with mild or moderate spinal cord injury (SCI) for 1 week can reduce spinal cord tissue loss and promote hindlimb locomotor recovery. A purinergic adenosine triphosphate (ATP) receptor subtype, P2X4 receptor (P2X4 R), has been considered as a potential target to diminish SCI-associated inflammatory responses. In this study, using a minipump-based infusion system, we found that intraspinal infusion with VPA for 3 days into injured spinal cord significantly improved hindlimb locomotion of rats with severe SCI induced by a 10-g NYU impactor dropping from the height of 50 mm onto the spinal T9/10 segment. The neuronal fibers in the injured spinal cord tissues were significantly preserved in VPA-treated rats compared with those observed in vehicle-treated animals. Moreover, the accumulation of microglia/macrophages and astrocytes in the injured spinal cord was attenuated in the animal group receiving VPA infusion. VPA also significantly reduced P2X4 R expression post-SCI. Furthermore, in vitro study indicated that VPA, but not the other HDAC inhibitors, sodium butyrate and trichostatin A (TSA), caused downregulation of P2X4 R in microglia activated with lipopolysaccharide (LPS). Moreover, p38 mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK)-triggered signaling was involved in the effect of VPA on the inhibition of P2X4 R gene expression. In addition to the findings from others, our results also provide important evidence to show the inhibitory effect of VPA on P2X4 R expression in activated microglia, which may contribute to reduction of SCI-induced gliosis and subsequently preservation of spinal cord tissues. © 2013 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.
Copyright © 2013 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.