Therapeutic and Toxic Effects of Valproic Acid Metabolites

Metabolites. 2023 Jan 16;13(1):134. doi: 10.3390/metabo13010134.


Valproic acid (VPA) and its salts are psychotropic drugs that are widely used in neurological diseases (epilepsy, neuropathic pain, migraine, etc.) and psychiatric disorders (schizophrenia, bipolar affective disorder, addiction diseases, etc.). In addition, the indications for the appointment of valproate have been expanding in recent years in connection with the study of new mechanisms of action of therapeutic and toxic metabolites of VPA in the human body. Thus, VPA is considered a component of disease-modifying therapy for multiple tumors, neurodegenerative diseases (Huntington's disease, Parkinson's disease, Duchenne progressive dystrophy, etc.), and human immunodeficiency syndrome. The metabolism of VPA is complex and continues to be studied. Known pathways of VPA metabolism include: β-oxidation in the tricarboxylic acid cycle (acetylation); oxidation with the participation of cytochrome P-450 isoenzymes (P-oxidation); and glucuronidation. The complex metabolism of VPA explains the diversity of its active and inactive metabolites, which have therapeutic, neutral, or toxic effects. It is known that some active metabolites of VPA may have a stronger clinical effect than VPA itself. These reasons explain the relevance of this narrative review, which summarizes the results of studies of blood (serum, plasma) and urinary metabolites of VPA from the standpoint of the pharmacogenomics and pharmacometabolomics. In addition, a new personalized approach to assessing the cumulative risk of developing VPA-induced adverse reactions is presented and ways for their correction are proposed depending on the patient's pharmacogenetic profile and the level of therapeutic and toxic VPA metabolites in the human body fluids (blood, urine).

Keywords: acetylation; adverse drug reaction; blood metabolite; glucuronidation; oxidation; personalized approach; pharmacogenomics; pharmacometabolomics; risk factor; urinal metabolite; valproic acid.

Publication types

  • Review

Grant support

This research received no external funding.