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Anticonvulsant efficacy of valproate-like carboxylic acids: a potential target for anti-bipolar therapy


  • The authors of this paper do not have any commercial associations that might pose a conflict of interest in connection with this manuscript.

Miriam L Greenberg, Department of Biological Sciences, Wayne State University, Detroit, MI 48202, USA. Fax: + 1 313 577 6891; e-mail:


Background:  Bipolar disorder (BPD) is a severe and chronic illness, with a lifetime prevalence of approximately 1.5%. Despite the availability of some mood stabilizing drugs including lithium, valproate (valproic acid), lamotrigine and carbamazepine, BPD is characterized by high rates of recurrence, as treatment with these and other drugs is ineffective for and not well-tolerated by a significant percentage of patients. Most drugs currently used for the maintenance treatment of BPD are anticonvulsants (e.g., valproate, carbamazepine and lamotrigine).

Objectives:  The aim of this paper is to review the studies characterizing the anticonvulsant efficacy of valproate-like carboxylic acids and related compounds, some of which may have potential for the treatment of manic-depressive illness.

Results:  The data reviewed herein demonstrate clearly that some dietary fatty acids and other valproate-like carboxylic acids exhibit potent anticonvulsant activity, and may thus be candidates for mood stabilizing treatment options for BPD.