A single therapeutic dose of valproate affects liver carbohydrate, fat, adenylate, amino acid, coenzyme A, and carnitine metabolism in infant mice: Possible clinical significance

Jean Holowach Thurston, James E. Carroll, Richard E. Hauhart, James A. Schiro

59 Scopus citations


We have previously reported that chronic valproate administration reduced ketonemia in suckling mice and fasting epileptic children. The present study demonstrates that even a single dose of valproate in the therapeutic range for man caused a prolonged reduction of plasma β-hydroxybutyrate levels in normal infant mice; the plasma glucose concentration was also significantly lowered. In the livers of these animals, there were extraordinary decreases in levels of free coenzyme A, acetyl CoA and free carnitine. Concomitantly concentrations of acid-soluble fatty acid (short-chain, non-acetyl) coenzyme A esters and of acid-insoluble (long-chain) fatty acid carnitine esters increased. There was evidence for inhibition of the metabolic flux through the Krebs citric acid cycle at those enzyme reactions which require coenzyme A. While valproate doubled liver alanine levels, concentrations of liver aspartate, glutamate and glutamine were reduced. All of the valproate-induced metabolite changes can be explained by the decrease of coenzyme A due to the accumulation of acid-soluble (non-acetyl) coenzyme A esters (presumably valproyl CoA and further metabolites). Decreased coenzyme A would limit the activities of one or more enzymes in the pathway of fatty acid oxidation and the Krebs citric acid cycle. Secondary decreases in acetyl CoA would limit both ketogenesis and gluconeogenesis. Decreased levels of selected hepatic amino acids could reflect their use as alternative fuels. The effect of clinical doses of valproate in infant mice may relate to the valproate-associated syndrome of hepatic failure and Reye-like encephalopathy in some infants and children and suggest a simple screen for those who may be at particular risk.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1643-1651
Number of pages9
JournalLife sciences
Issue number17
Publication statusPublished - Apr 29 1985
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • Pharmacology, Toxicology and Pharmaceutics(all)

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