Perinatal Influences of Valproate on Brain and Behaviour: An Animal Model for Autism

Curr Top Behav Neurosci. 2016;29:363-386. doi: 10.1007/7854_2015_404.


Valproic acid or valproate (VPA) is an anti-convulsant and mood stabiliser effective in treating epilepsy and bipolar disorders. Although in adults VPA is well tolerated and safe, there is convincing evidence that it has teratogenic properties, ranging from mild neurodevelopmental changes to severe congenital malformations. In particular, studies involving humans and other animals have shown that prenatal exposure to VPA can induce developmental abnormalities reminiscent of autism spectrum disorder (ASD). In this chapter, we discuss the connection between VPA and ASD, evaluate the VPA animal model of ASD, and describe the possible molecular mechanisms underlying VPA's teratogenic properties.

Keywords: ASD; Animal models; Autism; Behaviour; HDAC-I; Oxidative stress; ROS; Teratogen; VPA; Valproate; Valproic Acid.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Autism Spectrum Disorder / chemically induced*
  • Behavior, Animal / drug effects
  • Brain / drug effects*
  • Disease Models, Animal*
  • GABA Agents / toxicity*
  • Valproic Acid / toxicity*


  • GABA Agents
  • Valproic Acid