Methionine reduces the valproic acid-induced spina bifida rate in mice without altering valproic acid kinetics

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The antiepileptic drug valproic acid (VPA) is an established human teratogen causing spina bifida aperta. We recently developed a mouse model in which spina bifida aperta and occulta are induced with VPA. In a search for protection against neural tube defects, we investigated the effect of methionine on the incidence of VPA-induced spina bifida in the mouse. To induce spina bifida, we injected VPA (350 mg VPA-Na/kg body weight) subcutaneously three times on d 9 of gestation at 0, 6 and 12 h. In some mice, L-methionine (3 x 70 mg/kg body weight) was injected intraperitoneally 30 min before each VPA administration. When fetuses were examined on d 18, methionine treatment slightly reduced the VPA-induced spina bifida aperta rate from 5 to 1% (P > 0.05, no significant difference). The incidence of VPA-induced spina bifida occulta (90%) was significantly lower (28%) when methionine was also administered (P < 0.05). Examination on d 10 showed that the number of embryos in the mice administered VPA and methionine having an open neuroporus posterior was significantly lower than in mice administered VPA alone (P < 0.05). Pharmacokinetic studies indicated that VPA concentrations in maternal plasma and embryo did not differ between the two groups. Methionine reduces VPA-induced spina bifida in mice without altering VPA kinetics.

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