In this review, we discuss the functions and main effects on pregnancy outcomes of three agents that have the ability to induce epigenetic modifications: valproic acid (VPA), a well-known teratogen that is a histone deacetylase inhibitor; S-adenosylmethionine (SAMe), the most effective methyl donor; and choline, an important micronutrient involved in the one methyl group cycle and in the synthesis of SAMe. Our aim was to describe the possible effects of these compounds when administered during pregnancy on the developing embryo and fetus or, if administered postnatally, their effects on the developing child. These substances are able to modify gene expression and pos-sibly alleviate neurobehavioral changes in disturbances that have epigenetic origins, such as autism spectrum disorder (ASD), depression, Rett syndrome, and fetal alcohol spectrum disorder (FASD). Valproic acid and SAMe are antagonistic epigenetic modulators whether administered in utero or postnatally. However, VPA is a major human teratogen and, whenever possible, should not be used by pregnant women. Most currently relevant data come from experimental animal studies that aimed to explore the possibility of using these substances as epigenetic modifiers and possible therapeutic agents. In experimental animals, each of these substances was able to alleviate the severity of several well-known diseases by inducing changes in the expression of affected genes or by other yet unknown mechanisms. We believe that additional studies are needed to further explore the possibility of using these substances, and similar compounds, for the treatment of ”epigenetic human diseases”.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- !!Molecular Medicine
- !!Pharmaceutical Science
- !!Drug Discovery