Novel molecular triggers underlie valproate-induced liver injury and its alleviation by the omega-3 fatty acid DHA: role of inflammation and apoptosis

Abdalla M. El-Mowafy, Mohamed M. Katary, Chelsey Pye, Ahmed S. Ibrahim, Ahmed A. Elmarakby

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

20 Scopus citations


Background/Aim Hepatic injury is a hallmark adverse reaction to Valproate (VPA), a common used drug in the management of numerous CNS disorders, including epilepsy. DHA has a myriad of health benefits, including renal- and hepato-protective effects. Unfortunately, however, the underpinnings of such liver-pertinent VPA- and DHA-actions remain largely undefined. Accordingly, this study attempted to unveil the cellular and molecular triggers whereby VPA evokes, while DHA abates, hepatotoxicity. Methods We evaluated activity and/or expression of cellular markers of oxidative stress, inflammation, and apoptosis in rat liver, following treatment with VPA (500 mg/kg/day) with and without concurrent treatment with DHA (250 mg/kg/day) for two weeks. Results and conclusion VPA promoted hepatic oxidative stress as evidenced by enhancing activity/expression of NADPH-oxidase and its subunits, a ROS-generator, and by accumulation of lipid-peroxides. Moreover, VPA enhanced hepatic phosphorylation/activation of mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK), and expression of cyclooxygenase-2(COX-2), as proinflammatory signals. Besides, VPA promoted hepatocellular apoptosis, as attested by enhanced expression of cleaved caspase-9 and increased number of TUNEL-positive hepatocytes. Lastly, VPA upregulated levels of hypoxia-inducible factor-1-alpha (HIF-1α), a multifaceted modulator of hepatocytic biology, and activity of its downstream antioxidant enzyme heme-oxygenase-1(HO-1). These changes were significantly blunted by co-administration of DHA. Our findings demonstrate that VPA activated NADPH-oxidase and HIF-1α to induce oxidative-stress and hypoxia as initiators of hepatic injury. These changes were further aggravated by up-regulation of inflammatory (MAPK and COX-2) and apoptotic cascades, but could be partly lessened by HO-1 activation. Concurrent administration of DHA mitigated all VPA-induced anomalies.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere00130
Issue number7
StatePublished - Jul 1 2016


  • Biochemistry
  • Cell biology
  • Medicine
  • Physiology
  • Systems biology

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General


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