The effects of valproic acid on early pregnancy human placentas: Pilot ex vivo analysis in cultured placental villi

Nino Tetro, Tal Imbar, Debra Wohl, Iris Eisenberg, Simcha Yagel, Miriam Shmuel, Sara Eyal*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Scopus citations


Valproic acid is an established structural and neurodevelopmental teratogen. Recently, we demonstrated that valproate alters the barrier function of perfused term human placentas. Here, we conducted a pilot study to evaluate the effects of subchronic valproate exposure on carrier expression in cultured placental villous explants from early human pregnancies. Placental tissue of gestational age 6-13 weeks was collected from elective pregnancy terminations in women without known epilepsy. The effects of valproate (42, 83, or 166 μg/mL) on the mRNA expression of 37 major placental carriers and related genes were evaluated by a customized gene expression array (n = 5, 5 days). Five-day exposure to valproate was associated with high variability in gene expression. However, two main gene clusters were identified, including a cluster of three major folate carriers. Exposure to low therapeutic levels of valproate (42 μg/mL) was associated with a tendency toward reduced mRNA expression of genes encoding folate and amino acid and fatty acid carriers (P = 0.065, paired analysis). Our initial findings suggest that valproate can affect the function of the human placenta during early pregnancy.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)e47-e51
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 2019

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
We acknowledge the support of the Israel Science Foundation (grants #506/13 and #2054/18). Sara Eyal is affiliated with the David R. Bloom Center for Pharmacy and Dr Adolf and Klara Brettler Center for Research in Molecular Pharmacology and Therapeutics at Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Israel.

Publisher Copyright:
Wiley Periodicals, Inc. © 2019 International League Against Epilepsy


  • amino acid carriers
  • folate carriers
  • folic acid
  • teratogenicity
  • transporters


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