Valproate Administered after Traumatic Brain Injury Provides Neuroprotection and Improves Cognitive Function in RatsReport as inadecuate

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Traumatic brain injury TBI initiates a complex series of neurochemical and signaling changes that lead to pathological events including neuronal hyperactivity, excessive glutamate release, inflammation, increased blood-brain barrier BBB permeability and cerebral edema, altered gene expression, and neuronal dysfunction. It is believed that a drug combination, or a single drug acting on multiple targets, may be an effective strategy to treat TBI. Valproate, a widely used antiepileptic drug, has a number of targets including GABA transaminase, voltage-gated sodium channels, glycogen synthase kinase GSK-3, and histone deacetylases HDACs, and therefore may attenuate a number of TBI-associated pathologies.

Methodology-Principal Findings

Using a rodent model of TBI, we tested if post-injury administration of valproate can decrease BBB permeability, reduce neural damage and improve cognitive outcome. Dose-response studies revealed that systemic administration of 400 mg-kg i.p., but not 15, 30, 60 or 100 mg-kg, increases histone H3 and H4 acetylation, and reduces GSK-3 activity, in the hippocampus. Thirty min post-injury administration of 400 mg-kg valproate improved BBB integrity as indicated by a reduction in Evans Blue dye extravasation. Consistent with its dose response to inhibit GSK-3 and HDACs, valproate at 400 mg-kg, but not 100 mg-kg, reduced TBI-associated hippocampal dendritic damage, lessened cortical contusion volume, and improved motor function and spatial memory. These behavioral improvements were not observed when SAHA suberoylanilide hydroxamic acid, a selective HDAC inhibitor, was administered.


Our findings indicate that valproate given soon after TBI can be neuroprotective. As clinically proven interventions that can be used to minimize the damage following TBI are not currently available, the findings from this report support the further testing of valproate as an acute therapeutic strategy.

Author: Pramod K. Dash , Sara A. Orsi, Min Zhang, Raymond J. Grill, Shibani Pati, Jing Zhao, Anthony N. Moore



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