Neuroscience and biobehavioral reviews

Neuroconnectivity and valproic acid: the myelin hypothesis.

PMID 22652270


Neuropsychiatric medications that directly alter the epigenome, such as valproic acid, can under certain conditions reactivate critical developmental periods and thus impact adult neuroconnectivity. In animal models valproic acid was shown to inhibit the process of postnatal myelination and to replicate age-dependent decline in remyelination efficiency. The human central nervous system's myelination process, unlike that of non-human primates commonly used in the experimental models, is an intricate heterochronous process that continues well into adult life and which probably underlies later life neurocognitive changes and plasticity. Chronic exposure to valproic acid, especially in patients with epilepsy and neuropsychiatric disorders, may profoundly affect this process and its developmental trajectory. Further studies using novel MRI methods that allow in vivo mapping of myelination trajectories across the lifespan are urgently required to address the potential effects of valproic acid on brain development.

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