Network Reconstruction Reveals that Valproic Acid Activates Neurogenic Transcriptional Programs in Adult Brain Following Traumatic Injury

Gerald A. Higgins*, Patrick Georgoff, Vahagn Nikolian, Ari Allyn-Feuer, Brian Pauls, Richard Higgins, Brian D. Athey, Hasan E. Alam

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

20 Scopus citations


Objectives: To determine the mechanism of action of valproic acid (VPA) in the adult central nervous system (CNS) following traumatic brain injury (TBI) and hemorrhagic shock (HS). Methods: Data were analyzed from different sources, including experiments in a porcine model, data from postmortem human brain, published studies, public and commercial databases. Results: The transcriptional program in the CNS following TBI, HS, and VPA treatment includes activation of regulatory pathways that enhance neurogenesis and suppress gliogenesis. Genes which encode the transcription factors (TFs) that specify neuronal cell fate, including MEF2D, MYT1L, NEUROD1, PAX6 and TBR1, and their target genes, are induced by VPA. VPA represses genes responsible for oligodendrogenesis, maintenance of white matter, T-cell activation, angiogenesis, and endothelial cell proliferation, adhesion and chemotaxis. NEUROD1 has regulatory interactions with 38% of the genes regulated by VPA in a swine model of TBI and HS in adult brain. Hi-C spatial mapping of a VPA pharmacogenomic SNP in the GRIN2B gene shows it is part of a transcriptional hub that contacts 12 genes that mediate chromatin-mediated neurogenesis and neuroplasticity. Conclusions: Following TBI and HS, this study shows that VPA administration acts in the adult brain through differential activation of TFs responsible for neurogenesis, genes responsible for neuroplasticity, and repression of TFs that specify oligodendrocyte cell fate, endothelial cell chemotaxis and angiogenesis. Short title: Mechanism of action of valproic acid in traumatic brain injury.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1658-1672
Number of pages15
JournalPharmaceutical Research
Issue number8
StatePublished - Aug 1 2017
Externally publishedYes


  • bioinformatics
  • network modeling
  • pharmacoepigenomics

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pharmacology (medical)
  • Molecular Medicine
  • Biotechnology
  • Pharmacology
  • Pharmaceutical Science
  • Organic Chemistry


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