Epilepsy is a neurological disorder often associated with seizure that affects ∼0.7% of pregnant women. During pregnancy, most epileptic patients are prescribed antiepileptic drugs (AEDs) such as valproic acid (VPA) to control seizure activity. Here, we show that prenatal exposure to VPA in mice increases seizure susceptibility in adult offspring through mislocalization of newborn neurons in the hippocampus. We confirmed that neurons newly generated from neural stem/progenitor cells (NS/PCs) are integrated into the granular cell layer in the adult hippocampus; however, prenatal VPA treatment altered the expression in NS/PCs of genes associated with cell migration, including CXC motif chemokine receptor 4 (Cxcr4), consequently increasing the ectopic localization of newborn neurons in the hilus. We also found that voluntary exercise in a running wheel suppressed this ectopic neurogenesis and countered the enhanced seizure susceptibility caused by prenatal VPA exposure, probably by normalizing the VPA-disrupted expression of multiple genes including Cxcr4 in adult NS/PCs. Replenishing Cxcr4 expression alone in NS/PCs was sufficient to overcome the aberrant migration of newborn neurons and increased seizure susceptibility in VPA-exposed mice. Thus, prenatal exposure to an AED, VPA, has a long-term effect on the behavior of NS/PCs in offspring, but this effect can be counteracted by a simple physical activity. Our findings offer a step to developing strategies for managing detrimental effects in offspring exposed to VPA in utero.
Keywords: Cxcr4; ectopic neurogenesis; epilepsy; neural stem cell; valproic acid.
Copyright © 2018 the Author(s). Published by PNAS.