Encyclopedia of Autism Spectrum Disorders

Living Edition
| Editors: Fred R. Volkmar


  • Anamiguel Pomales-RamosEmail author
Living reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-1-4614-6435-8_102097-1



Valproate is a broad spectrum anticonvulsant used to treat seizures, manic episodes, and migraines. The exact mechanism of action underlining each of the drug’s clinical effects remains unclear. However, a wide range of actions have been reported to contribute to the drug’s diverse effects, such as: increasing the levels of gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) in the brain, inhibiting voltage-gated sodium channels, reducing levels of excitatory amino acid (such as beta-hydrobutryric acid), inhibiting calcium channels, modulating dopaminergic and serotonergic transmission, and inhibiting histone deacetylase.

Common side effects reported include tremors, confusion, fatigue, dizziness, nausea, weight gain, abdominal cramps, and abnormal liver functioning. Other potential side effects include liver damage (i.e., hepatotoxicity), metabolic and endocrine adverse...

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References and Reading

  1. Christensen, J., Grønborg, T. K., Sørensen, M. J., Schendel, D., Parner, E. T., Pedersen, L. H., & Vestergaard, M. (2013). Prenatal valproate exposure and risk of autism spectrum disorders and childhood autism. JAMA, 309, 1696–1703.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Tomson, T., Battino, D., & Perucca, E. (2016). Valproic acid after five decades of use in epilepsy: Time to reconsider the indications of a time-honoured drug. The Lancet Neurology, 15, 210–218.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Yale Child Study CenterNew HavenUSA