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Mol Pharmacol. 2005 May;67(5):1426-33. Epub 2005 Feb 1.

Effects of valproic acid derivatives on inositol trisphosphate depletion, teratogenicity, glycogen synthase kinase-3beta inhibition, and viral replication: a screening approach for new bipolar disorder drugs derived from the valproic acid core structure.

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  • 1Molecular Neurobiology Group, Medical Research Council Centre for Developmental Biology, King's College London, United Kingdom.


Inositol-1,4,5-trisphosphate (InsP3) depletion has been implicated in the therapeutic action of bipolar disorder drugs, including valproic acid (VPA). It is not currently known whether the effect of VPA on InsP3 depletion is related to the deleterious effects of teratogenicity or elevated viral replication, or if it occurs via putative inhibitory effects on glycogen synthase kinase-3beta (GSK-3beta). In addition, the structural requirements of VPA-related compounds to cause InsP3 depletion are unknown. In the current study, we selected a set of 10 VPA congeners to examine their effects on InsP3 depletion, in vivo teratogenic potency, HIV replication, and GSK-3beta activity in vitro. We found four compounds that function to deplete InsP3 in the model eukaryote Dictyostelium discoideum, and these drugs all cause growth-cone enlargement in mammalian primary neurons, consistent with the effect of InsP3 depletion. No relationship was found between InsP3 depletion and teratogenic or elevated viral replication effects, and none of the VPA congeners were found to affect GSK-3beta activity. Structural requirements of VPA congers to maintain InsP3 depletion efficacy greater than that of lithium are a carboxylic-acid function without dependence on side-chain length, branching, or saturation. Noteworthy is the enantiomeric differentiation if a chiral center exists, suggesting that InsP3 depletion is mediated by a stereoselective mode of action. Thus, the effect of InsP3 depletion can be separated from that of teratogenic potency and elevated viral replication effect. We have used this to identify two VPA derivatives that share the common InsP3-depleting action of VPA, lithium and carbamazepine, but do not show the side effects of VPA, thus providing promising novel candidates for bipolar disorder treatment.

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