Keywords: Valproic acid (PubMed Search)
Valproic acid (VPA) is often used to treat seizure disorder and mania as a mood stabilizer. The mechanism of action involves enhancing GABA effect by preventing its degradation and slows the recovery from inactivation of neuronal Na+ channels (blockade effect).
VPA normally undergoes beta-oxidation (same as fatty acid metabolism) in the liver mitochondria, where VPA is transported into the mitochondria by carnitine shuttle pathway.
In setting of an overdose, carnitine is depleted and VPA undergoes omega-oxidation in the cytosol, resulting in a toxic metabolite.
Elevation NH3 occurs as the toxic metabolite inhibits the carbomyl phosphate synthase I, preventing the incorporation of NH3 into the urea cycle.
Signs and symptoms of acute toxicity include:
Goldfrank's Toxicologic Emergencies 9th ed. p 705