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Weight Gain HALTED by Valproic Acid (Depakote)

Weight Gain HALTED by Valproic Acid (Depakote)

Common epilepsy drug helps combat obesity in early studies: Discoveries


CLEVELAND, Ohio — The anticonvulsant valproic acid, sold under the brand name Depakote, helped halt weight gain and reverse the negative medical effects of obesity in mice, according to new research from Johns Hopkins University.

The study, published online Wednesday in the journal Molecular Pharmacology, may point the way toward a new treatment for millions of obese people, if further testing proves successful.

Depakote is FDA-approved for the treatment of epilepsy, manic episodes in bipolar disorder and for the prevention of migraine headaches.

In the study, obese mice that received the drug in their water stopped gaining weight, had decreased blood sugar levels, and had improvements in the health of their livers, while obese mice that did not receive the drug continued to gain weight and did not show improvements in blood sugar or liver symptoms.

“They not only had smaller livers and their livers weighed less, but they had visibly fewer fat deposits,” said Namandjé Bumpus, assistant professor of pharmacology at Johns Hopkins and head of the lab that performed the experiments. Excess fat deposits in the liver, a condition called non-alcoholic fatty liver disease, is common in obese patients and can lead to liver cancer or liver failure.

Bumpus said the Depakote appears to be activating a key regulator of metabolism within the liver cells; something called AMP-activated protein kinase, or AMPK. It is the same way that the antiadiabetic drug Metformin works in the cell, she said.

Bumpus and her lab have been studying the way drugs are broken down in the liver, and were interested to find that one of the byproducts — or metabolites — of the breakdown of Depakote actually seems to do an even better job of activating AMPK than the drug itself does.

“The great thing about this would be a potentially lower dose [drug for patients],” Bumpus said. “The metabolites were 40 times more active at activating AMPK. If you can use a lower dose that’s always great.”

The study’s findings may seem puzzling to Depakote users who have struggled with the annoying side effect of weight gain, which can affect as many as 30 to 50 percent of those who take the drug, and is commonly cited on message boards by epilepsy, migraine and bipolar patients.

Bumpus said that it’s likely the drug works differently in lean compared to obese individuals because the physiology of the two conditions is very different. They did not test the drug on normal weight mice, and were looking at outcomes other than weight gain as well.

“It’s really comparing apples to oranges,” she said.

“I think that looking in an obese population will be really interesting and necessary to do to see if this translates to people.”

The lab will also be studying the effects of giving the drug’s metabolites to mice rather than the drug itself.

SOURCE: http://www.cleveland.com/healthfit/index.ssf/2014/01/common_epilepsy_drug_helps_com.html

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  1. I took Depakote it did make me gain weight. It didn’t control my seizures though. Keppra has had me seizure free for 30 months now!

  2. Not sure how a study of obese mice helps average people. A random poll I took of average people taking this horrid drug experienced incredible weight gain, hair loss, tremors, memory issues, etc. weight gain was most dramatic and was universal. Oh…let’s not forget lethargy and depression. Obese mice study?? Really?!!! Let’s study real people and post that. :/

  3. But…I guess if obesity is an issue in the mice community…and the poor things cannot exercise, then this is awesome news……

  4. My son has been on lamictal and depakote for 8 years he sleeps a lot because drugs make him tired . He has gained weight and obese so depakote doesn’t help all he takes 3000 mg daily

  5. I agree with Karyn Hopper. It was a nightmare med for me. No seizure control, weight gain, depression and hair loss. Good on the mice, but let’s get it right for the individuals who could benefit.

  6. @denise…the side effects are so not worth it. My daughter experienced the same. Doc didn’t care. We found new doc who took her off it ASAP. She’s on combo of others now. This is one of the worst out there….

  7. It should be banned here….I think other countries have stopped prescribing valproic acid. Stories from the UK make me cry …seems so unnecessary with all our advancements….. Read, learn, and support each other!!!! Xo

  8. We have heard many people list weight gain as a side effect they experienced with Depakote, which is why this research is even more interesting.

  9. My daughter takes Depakote. Everyone told me how she would gain weight while on it but hasn’t had the first problem with weight while on it. She also doesn’t have the side effects that she had on Keppra. I won’t trade one for the other. Seizure control and quality of life should be obtained by whatever drug you take and if it isn’t, it’s time to talk to your doc. We did, and Depakote has been the only one that has given her no side effects, period. What works for one might not work for another, but we are all different. So, read these comments and know that with Epilepsy it is a trial and error thing, as far as medicines. There are so many things to consider when your doctor choses to put you on a medicine.

  10. Thx he is 24 and we will encourage him to talk with his dr. He has pretty good control right now and doesn’t want to experience more seizures.

  11. Interesting.

  12. There are many different types of seizure disorders. One medication or a combination of meds may work for one person and not help another. I started having seizures at 7 now I am 54. I have taken so many different meds in my life that I have lost count.

  13. I agree. Depakote turned my son into a zombie, stunted his growth, had no memory, it was horrible. Took him off and he is a different child now. Depakote is horrible for children and should be illegal.

  14. I disagree. My daughter gained a ton on that med. As soon as we stopped she lost 15lbs. She had an insatiable appetite. She was also zombie like. Now we had to replace that with onfi, which is terrible, but we have no other choice. Drooling, major sleepiness (could sleep all day if I let her) but no weight gain.

  15. To add, My daughter has had epilepsy since 3 (now 11) with zero control. What may work for some doesnt for others. We have done everything possible. Including surgeries. I wish I could try the medical marijuana but we are military and it would never be approved. What I have learned is that you must take the good with the bad. A med is going to help control seizures but may cause unwelcome side effects. You need to pick which one you want. Sleepiness or seizures.

  16. To the admin…your comments are so confusing and/or perhaps it’s me. I’m not sure…..it’s relevant because of the weight gain issue that affects so many? Without E. ? Weight gain is an accepted cautionary side effect of taking that med…so I’m confused. Unless ur saying the focus of this test is stopping weight gain and isn’t that a good thing… And a nod to those with E who find it helpful….?

  17. @angela seems I remember that Sanjay Gupta special with montel Williams as guest where montel mentioned the govt was “rolling their own” and dispensing in special buckets that didn’t get stopped when flying…easily passed security checks. Be great for you to get that!

  18. Karyn Hopper I’m not sure about that. I’m just afraid that living in base housing and we were “caught” with it we would not be able to live here any more. Also if I went against doctors orders we would be refused things (benefits or services). It’s the government anything can happen and recently they do what they want.

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