A study in PLOS Biology has unveiled that valproic acid, often used by clinicians to treat epilepsy and migraines, may cause birth defects if the developing embryo is exposed to it.
The research mentions how valproic acid places cells of the developing nervous system into a halted state, inhibiting growth and division.
“We used embryonic mice and human organoids to model key features of VPA drug exposure, including exencephaly, microcephaly, and spinal defects,” the study explained.
“In the malformed tissues, in which neurogenesis is defective, we find pronounced induction of cellular senescence in the neuroepithelial (NE) cells.”
What the findings concluded: “Critically, through genetic and functional studies, we identified p19Arf as the instrumental mediator of senescence and microcephaly, but, surprisingly, not exencephaly and spinal defects. Together, these findings demonstrate that misregulated senescence in NE cells can contribute to developmental defects.”