Assessment of the Cytoprotective Effects of High-Dose Valproic Acid Compared to a Clinically Used Lower Dose

Umar F. Bhatti, Henriette Remmer, Aaron M. Williams, Ben E. Biesterveld, Rachel Russo, Glenn Wakam, Michael Kemp, Rebecca Tagett, Baoling Liu, Yongqing Li, Hasan B. Alam*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


Objective: Valproic acid (VPA) treatment improves survival in animal models of injuries on doses higher than those allowed by Food and Drug Administration (FDA). We investigated the proteomic alterations induced by a single high-dose (140mg/kg) of VPA (VPA140) compared to the FDA-approved dose of 30mg/kg (VPA30) in healthy humans. We also describe the proteomic and transcriptomic changes induced by VPA140 in an injured patient. We hypothesized that VPA140 would induce cytoprotective changes in the study participants. Methods: Serum samples were obtained from healthy subjects randomized to two groups; VPA140 and VPA30 at 3 timepoints: 0h(baseline), 2h, and 24h following infusion(n = 3/group). Samples were also obtained from an injured patient that received VPA140 at 0h, 6h and 24h following infusion. Proteomic analyses were performed using liquid chromatography-mass spectrometry (LC-MS/MS), and transcriptomic analysis was performed using RNA-sequencing. Differentially expressed (DE) proteins and genes were identified for functional annotation and pathway analysis using iPathwayGuide and gene set enrichment analysis (GSEA), respectively. Results: For healthy individuals, a dose comparison was performed between VPA140 and VPA30 groups at 2 and 24 h. Functional annotation showed that top biological processes in VPA140 versus VPA30 analysis at 2 h included regulation of fatty acid (P = 0.002) and ATP biosynthesis (P = 0.007), response to hypoxia (P = 0.017), cell polarity regulation (P = 0.031), and sequestration of calcium ions (P = 0.031). Top processes at 24 h in VPA140 versus VPA30 analysis included amino acid metabolism (P = 0.023), collagen catabolism (P = 0.023), and regulation of protein breakdown (P = 0.023). In the injured patient, annotation of the DE proteins in the serum showed that top biological processes at 2 h included neutrophil chemotaxis (P = 0.002), regulation of cellular response to heat (P = 0.008), regulation of oxidative stress (P = 0.008) and regulation of apoptotic signaling pathway (P = 0.008). Top biological processes in the injured patient at 24 h included autophagy (P = 0.01), glycolysis (P = 0.01), regulation of apoptosis (P = 0.01) and neuron apoptotic processes (P = 0.02). Conclusions: VPA140 induces cytoprotective changes in human proteome not observed in VPA30. These changes may be responsible for its protective effects in response to injuries.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)125-141
Number of pages17
JournalJournal of Surgical Research
StatePublished - Oct 2021


  • Hemorrhagic shock
  • Histone deacetylase inhibitors
  • Traumatic brain injuries

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery


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