Epilepsy Medication Causes Birth Defects: As per a study published in the journal PLOS Biology by Bill Keyes, antiepileptic drug Valproic acid (VPA), when put in the cells of the developing nervous system of the fetes, it altered the healthy production and growth of these cells.
Valproic acid is among known antiepileptic drugs which can treat diseases like bipolar disorder, migraine, and epilepsy. The recent study has shown that it can cause birth defects when taken during pregnancy.
One main reason why valproic acid is not safe for pregnant ladies is because it tends to induce a kind of senescence in neuroepithelial cells. And this is how this drug is known to produce birth defects.
As far as the general use of VPA is concerned, it’s known to treat a plethora of illness. But during trial, this drug, when taken by pregnant women, produced a number of birth related effects including heart malformation, facial alterations, and spina bifida.
In addition to the above, around one third of the exposed infants developed Autism Spectrum and cognitive impairment disorder.
Epilepsy Medication Valproic acid (VPA) Causes Birth Defects
In the new study conducted recently, Keyes and colleagues decided to use human organoids which were three-dimensional clusters of human cells grown in the lab and in mice to study the birth defects.
During their course of study, they spotted that VPA tends to induce cellular senescence in neuroepithelial cells (stem cells meant to form the central nervous system).
In addition to the above, they also spotted one particular molecule p19Arf responsible to produce senescence.
When the team of researchers tested mice lacking p19Arf, it didn’t cause Autism Spectrum Disorder or changes in gene expression with VPA. But still, it lead to some other defects in mice.
This is what the researchers have to say, “Overall, the discovery that atypical activation of senescence in the embryo can perturb development raises the intriguing possibility that it may also contribute to defects in developmental contexts beyond those we studied here.” they said.
The first author of this unique study Muriel Rhinn stated that earlier, cellular senescence was associated with problems like ageing, new study reveals that induction of senescence can also produce some developmental defects.
Since Valproic Acid (VA) is found to be directly associated to produce Autism Spectrum Disorder and other cognitive defects, it can become a source for health professionals to study its connection with senescence.