Valproic acid

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Valproic acid (VPA) is a chemical compound that has found clinical use as an anticonvulsant and mood-stabilizing drug, primarily in the treatment of epilepsy, bipolar disorder, and, less commonly, major depression. It is also used to treat migraine headaches and schizophrenia. It is marketed under the brand names Depakote, Depakote ER, Depakene, Depacon, Depakine and Stavzor.

Related drugs include the sodium salts sodium valproate, used as an anticonvulsant, and a combined formulation, valproate semisodium, used as a mood stabilizer and additionally in the U.S. as an anticonvulsant.

VPA is a histone deacetylase inhibitor and is under investigation for treatment of HIV and various cancers.

Contents

History

Valproic acid (by its official name 2-propylvaleric acid) was first synthesized in 1882 by Burton as an analogue of valeric acid, found naturally in valerian.[1] A clear liquid fatty acid at room temperature, for many decades its only use was in laboratories as a "metabolically inert" solvent for organic compounds. In 1962, the French researcher Pierre Eymard serendipitously discovered the anticonvulsant properties of valproic acid while using it as a vehicle for a number of other compounds that were being screened for antiseizure activity. He found it prevented pentylenetetrazol-induced convulsions in rodents.[2] It was approved as an antiepileptic drug in 1967 in France and has become the most widely prescribed antiepileptic drug worldwide.[3] Valproic acid has also been used for migraine prophylaxis and bipolar disorder.[4]

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