The Ketogenic Diet and Brain Metabolism

  • Marc Yudkoff
  • Yevgeny Daikhin
  • Oksana Horyn
  • Ilana Nissim
  • Itzhak Nissim
Part of the Advances in Neurobiology book series (NEUROBIOL, volume 4)


Glucose ordinarily is the major brain fuel. However, the consumption of a diet high in fat evokes a brisk ketonemia (1–2 mmol/l) and provides brain with substrates (3-OH-butyrate and acetoacetate) that can furnish almost half of cerebral energy requirements. Such a diet also confers a potent anti-epileptic effect, even in patients whose epilepsy has proved refractory to anti-convulsant drugs. The precise basis of the therapeutic effect is not clear, but a ketogenic diet alters brain metabolism of many compounds, including the handling of neurotransmitter amino acids such as glutamate, aspartate, glutamine and GABA. This review summarizes some of these changes and considers how such adaptations might attenuate or even prevent a seizure diathesis.

Key words

Anti-convulsant therapy Brain amino acid metabolism Epilepsy Ketosis 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  • Marc Yudkoff
    • 1
    • 2
  • Yevgeny Daikhin
    • 3
  • Oksana Horyn
    • 3
  • Ilana Nissim
    • 3
  • Itzhak Nissim
    • 3
  1. 1.Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia and Department of PediatricsUniversity of Pennsylvania School of MedicinePhiladelphiaUSA
  2. 2.Division of Child Development, Rehabilitation and Metabolic DiseaseChildren’s Hospital of PhiladelphiaPhiladelphiaUSA
  3. 3.Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia and Department of PediatricsUniversity School of MedicinePhiladelphiaUSA

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