Valproic acid (VPA) is commonly prescribed for epilepsy, bipolar disorder and migraine, despite side effects such as fatty liver (hepatic steatosis). Elphick et al. use the social amoeba Dictyostelium to investigate the mechanisms underlying the drug’s adverse effects; in particular, how it induces intracellular lipid-droplet accumulation. Their results suggest that VPA and structurally related compounds inhibit fatty acid β-oxidation. The compounds have similar effects in human hepatocytes, suggesting that Dictyostelium is a viable model for structure-activity-based screens of VPA-related compounds aiming to develop improved drugs with fewer side effects. Page 231
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