High fat, low carbohydrate ketogenic diets (KD) have been in use for the treatment of epilepsy for almost a hundred years. Remarkably, seizures that are resistant to conventional anti-seizure drugs can in many cases be controlled by the KD therapy, and it has been shown that many patients with epilepsy become seizure free even after discontinuation of the diet. These findings suggest that KD combine anti-seizure effects with disease modifying effects. In addition to the treatment of epilepsy, KDs are now widely used for the treatment of a wide range of conditions including weight reduction, diabetes, and cancer. The reason for the success of metabolic therapies is based on the synergism of at least a dozen different mechanisms through which KDs provide beneficial activities. Among the newest findings are epigenetic mechanisms (DNA methylation and histone acetylation) through which KD exerts long-lasting disease modifying effects. Here we review mechanisms through which KD can affect neuroprotection in the brain, and how a combination of those mechanisms with epigenetic alterations can attenuate and possibly reverse the development of epilepsy.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Clinical Neurology
- Ketogenic diet