Young children are at increased risk for valproic acid (VPA) hepatotoxicity. Urinary organic acid profiles, as a surrogate of mitochondrial function, were obtained in children 1.9 to 17.3 years of age (n = 52) who were undergoing treatment with VPA for seizure disorders. Age-matched patients receiving treatment with carbamazepine (CBZ; n = 50) and healthy children not undergoing treatment (n = 22) served as controls. Age-related changes in organic acid profiles were observed in all three groups. Although the untreated and CBZ control groups were indistinguishable from each other with respect to the principal-component analysis (PCA) score plots of the subjects, a distinct boundary was apparent between the VPA and each of the control groups. Interindividual variability was observed in the VPA-induced alterations in endogenous pathways corresponding to branched-chain amino acid metabolism and oxidative stress. The data suggest that more detailed metabolomic analysis may provide novel insights into biological mechanisms and predictive biomarkers for children at highest risk for serious toxicity.
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