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Keywords:

  • epilepsy;
  • seizure;
  • anticonvulsant;
  • Valproic Acid;
  • carbamazepine;
  • gene expression;
  • microarray;
  • blood marker

Objective – Valproic acid (VPA) is a commonly used anticonvulsant with multiple systemic effects. The purpose of this pilot study is to examine the blood genomic expression pattern associated with VPA therapy in general and secondly VPA efficacy in children with epilepsy.

Materials and methods – Using oligonucleotide microarrays, gene expression in whole blood was assessed in pediatric epilepsy patients following treatment with VPA compared with children with epilepsy prior to initiation of anticonvulsant therapy (drug free patients).

Results – The expression of 461 genes was altered in VPA patients (n = 11) compared with drug free patients (n = 7), among which a significant number of serine threonine kinases were down-regulated. Expression patterns in children seizure free on VPA therapy (n = 8) demonstrated 434 up-regulated genes, many in mitochondria, compared with VPA children with continuing seizures (n = 3) and drug free seizure patients (n = 7).

Conclusion – VPA therapy is associated with two significant and unique blood gene expression patterns: chronic VPA monotherapy in general and a separate blood genomic profile correlated with seizure freedom. These expression patterns provide new insight into previously undetected mechanisms of VPA anticonvulsant activity.