Valproic acid use during radiation therapy for glioblastoma associated with improved survival

Int J Radiat Oncol Biol Phys. 2013 Jul 1;86(3):504-9. doi: 10.1016/j.ijrobp.2013.02.012. Epub 2013 Mar 20.


Purpose: Valproic acid (VA) is an antiepileptic drug (AED) and histone deacetylase (HDAC) inhibitor taken by patients with glioblastoma (GB) to manage seizures, and it can modulate the biologic effects of radiation therapy (RT). We investigated whether VA use during RT for GB was associated with overall survival (OS).

Methods and materials: Medical records of 544 adults with GB were retrospectively reviewed. Analyses were performed to determine the association of Radiation Therapy Oncology Group recursive partitioning analysis (RTOG RPA) class, seizure history, and concurrent temozolomide (TMZ) and AED use during RT with OS.

Results: Seizures before the end of RT were noted in 217 (40%) patients, and 403 (74%) were taking an AED during RT; 29 (7%) were taking VA. Median OS in patients taking VA was 16.9 months (vs 13.6 months taking another AED, P=.16). Among patients taking an AED during RT, OS was associated with VA (P=.047; hazard ratio [HR], 0.67; 95% confidence interval [CI], 0.27-1.07), and RTOG RPA class (P<.0001; HR, 1.49; 95% CI, 1.37-1.61). Of the 5 most common AEDs, only VA was associated with OS. Median OS of patients receiving VA and TMZ during RT was 23.9 months (vs 15.2 months for patients taking another AED, P=.26). When the analysis was restricted to patients who received concurrent TMZ, VA use was marginally associated with OS (P=.057; HR, 0.54; 95% CI, -0.09 to 1.17), independently of RTOG RPA class and seizure history.

Conclusions: VA use during RT for GB was associated with improved OS, independently of RTOG RPA, seizure history, and concurrent TMZ use. Further studies of treatment that combines HDAC inhibitors and RT are warranted.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Anticonvulsants / therapeutic use*
  • Antineoplastic Agents, Alkylating / therapeutic use
  • Brain Neoplasms / complications
  • Brain Neoplasms / drug therapy
  • Brain Neoplasms / mortality
  • Brain Neoplasms / radiotherapy*
  • Combined Modality Therapy / methods
  • Dacarbazine / analogs & derivatives
  • Dacarbazine / therapeutic use
  • Female
  • Glioblastoma / complications
  • Glioblastoma / drug therapy
  • Glioblastoma / mortality
  • Glioblastoma / radiotherapy*
  • Histone Deacetylase Inhibitors / therapeutic use*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Multivariate Analysis
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Seizures / drug therapy*
  • Seizures / etiology
  • Survival Analysis
  • Temozolomide
  • Treatment Outcome
  • Valproic Acid / therapeutic use*
  • Young Adult


  • Anticonvulsants
  • Antineoplastic Agents, Alkylating
  • Histone Deacetylase Inhibitors
  • Valproic Acid
  • Dacarbazine
  • Temozolomide