Valproic acid (VPA) is a known teratogen. In the present study, the effects of VPA and seven VPA derivatives with different teratogenic potencies (isobutyl-, 5-methyl-, ethyl-, propyl-, butyl-, pentyl- and hexyl-4-yn-VPA) were investigated in L929 cells in vitro. Evaluated end-points included changes in cell proliferation, growth, cell cycle distribution, morphology, speed, glycogen synthase kinase-3ß (GSK-3ß) and Erk1/2 phosphorylation, and histone H3 acetylation. Changes in proliferation, growth, speed, Erk1/2 and GSK-3ß-Tyr216 phosphorylation, and H3 acetylation were significantly associated with the teratogenic potencies of the VPA derivatives. However, in contrast to changes in Erk1/2 phosphorylation and H3 acetylation, significant changes in GSK-3ß phosphorylation could only be obtained in response to prolonged incubation at high drug concentration. There was an association between changes in H3 acetylation and GSK-3ß-Tyr216 phosphorylation, whereas none of these end-points were associated with changes in Erk1/2 phosphorylation. These results suggest that the teratogenic potencies of VPA and VPA derivatives are related to effects on both Erk1/2 and histone deacetylase activities, whereas changes in GSK-3ß activity are possibly a secondary effect.
Basic and Clinical Pharmacology and Toxicology Online, 2011, Vol 109, Issue 3, p. 164-174