Valproic acid, a widely used anticonvulsant drug, is a potent teratogen resulting in various congenital abnormalities. However, the mechanisms underlying valproic acid induced teratogenesis are nor clear. Recent studies indicate that histone deacetylase is a direct target of valproic acid.
In the present study, we have used histological analysis and RT-PCR assays to examine the cardiac abnormalities in mice treated with sodium valproate (NaVP) and determined the effects of NaVP on histone deacetylase activity and the expression of heart development-related genes in mouse myocardial cells.
The experimental data show that NaVP can induce cardiac abnormalities in fetal mice in a dose-dependent manner. NaVP causes a dose-dependent inhibition of hitone deacetylase (HDAC) activity in mouse myocardial cells. However, the expression levels of HDAC (both HDAC1 and HDAC2) are not significantly changed in fetal mouse hearts after administration of NaVP in pregnant mice. The transcriptional levels of other heart development-related genes, such as CHF1, Tbx5 and MEF2, are significantly increased in fetal mouse hearts treated with NaVP.