Valproic acid induces neuronal cell death through a novel calpain-dependent necroptosis pathway

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Abstract

A growing body of evidence indicates that valproic acid (VPA), a histone deacetylase inhibitor used to treat epilepsy and mood disorders, has histone deacetylase-related and -unrelated neurotoxic activity, the mechanism of which is still poorly understood. We report that VPA induces neuronal cell death through an atypical calpain-dependent necroptosis pathway that initiates with downstream activation of c-Jun N-terminal kinase 1 (JNK1) and increased expression of receptor-interacting protein 1 (RIP-1) and is accompanied by cleavage and mitochondrial release/nuclear translocation of apoptosis-inducing factor, mitochondrial release of Smac/DIABLO, and inhibition of the anti-apoptotic protein X-linked inhibitor of apoptosis (XIAP). Coinciding with apoptosis-inducing factor nuclear translocation, VPA induces phosphorylation of the necroptosis-associated histone H2A family member H2AX, which is known to contribute to lethal DNA degradation. These signals are inhibited in neuronal cells that express constitutively activated MEK/ERK and/or PI3-K/Akt survival pathways, allowing them to resist VPA-induced cell death. The data indicate that VPA has neurotoxic activity and identify a novel calpain-dependent necroptosis pathway that includes JNK1 activation and RIP-1 expression.

A growing body of evidence indicates that valproic acid (VPA) has neurotoxic activity, the mechanism of which is still poorly understood. We report, for the first time, that VPA activates a previously unrecognized calpain-dependent necroptosis cascade that initiates with JNK1 activation and involves AIF cleavage/nuclear translocation and H2AX phosphorylation as well as an altered Smac/DIABLO to XIAP balance.

A growing body of evidence indicates that valproic acid (VPA) has neurotoxic activity, the mechanism of which is still poorly understood. We report, for the first time, that VPA activates a previously unrecognized calpain-dependent necroptosis cascade that initiates with JNK1 activation and involves AIF cleavage/nuclear translocation and H2AX phosphorylation as well as an altered Smac/DIABLO to XIAP balance.

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