The results, published online Dec. 3 in the journal Epilepsy Research, suggest the ketogenic diet and fasting can work in tandem to reduce seizures but appear do so through different mechanisms — a finding that challenges the longstanding assumption that the two share a common mechanism.
“Our findings suggest that fasting does not merely intensify the therapeutic effects of the ketogenic diet but may actually represent an entirely new way to change the metabolism of children with epilepsy,” says lead investigator Adam Hartman, M.D., a pediatric neurologist at the Johns Hopkins Children’s Center.
In the study, six children, ages 2 to 7, and all on the ketogenic diet, were asked to fast on alternate days. All six children had seizure disorders incompletely resolved by the diet alone. Four of the six children experienced between 50 percent and 99 percent fewer seizures after the fasts were added to the dietary regimen. Three of the six were able to continue the fasting regimen for two months or longer.
The Johns Hopkins investigators say while the results are preliminary, they do provide compelling evidence of the potential benefits of fasting. Periodic fasts, they add, may eventually prove to be an alternative standalone therapy in children with drug-resistant epilepsy.
The researchers caution that larger studies are needed to further elucidate the effects of fasting. They also warn that fasting should be done under the strict supervision of a pediatric neurologist.
Made up of high-fat foods and few carbohydrates, the ketogenic diet is believed to work by triggering biochemical changes that eliminate seizure-causing short circuits in the brain’s signaling system. The diet, popularized in the early 1900s, was designed to mimic the physiologic effects of fasting — a seizure-control method favored by ancient Greeks. Since then, physicians have believed that the two therapies share a common mechanism.
The new Johns Hopkins findings, however, suggest otherwise.
“We suspect that fasting affects nerve cells in a completely different manner from the ketogenic diet,” Hartman says.
This hypothesis stemmed from a 2010 study of mice conducted by the Johns Hopkins team.
Two groups of epileptic mice — one treated with the ketogenic diet and one treated with fasting — had strikingly different responses to different seizure triggers. Animals treated with the ketogenic diet experienced fewer seizures than fasting mice when exposed to low amounts of electricity, but fared worse when they were injected with kainic acid, a potent nervous system stimulant and a known seizure trigger. Fasting mice, on the other hand, did worse when exposed to electricity but tolerated kainic acid injections far better than their ketogenic diet counterparts. In other words, the researchers say, each therapy protected against one seizure trigger, while increasing sensitivity to the other.
“We don’t fully understand the reasons for these marked differences, but unraveling the mechanisms behind them will help pave the way toward new therapies for epilepsy, and is the focus of our ongoing work,” says Eric Kossoff, M.D., pediatric neurologist and director of the ketogenic diet clinic at the Johns Hopkins Children’s Center.
James Rubenstein, M.D., of Johns Hopkins was co-author on the research.
Founded in 1912 as the children's hospital at The Johns Hopkins Hospital, the Johns Hopkins Children's Center offers one of the most comprehensive pediatric medical programs in the country, with more than 92,000 patient visits and nearly 9,000 admissions each year. Hopkins Children’s is consistently ranked among the top children's hospitals in the nation. Hopkins Children’s Center is Maryland's largest children’s hospital and the only state-designated Trauma Service and Burn Unit for pediatric patients. It has recognized Centers of Excellence in dozens of pediatric subspecialties, including allergy, cardiology, cystic fibrosis, gastroenterology, nephrology, neurology, neurosurgery, oncology, pulmonary, and transplant. Hopkins Children's Center is celebrating its 100th anniversary in 2012. For more information, please visit www.hopkinschildrens.org
ekaterina pesheva | EurekAlert!
New study: How does Europe become a leading player for software and IT services?
03.04.2017 | Fraunhofer-Institut für System- und Innovationsforschung (ISI)
Reusable carbon nanotubes could be the water filter of the future, says RIT study
30.03.2017 | Rochester Institute of Technology
Staphylococcus aureus is a feared pathogen (MRSA, multi-resistant S. aureus) due to frequent resistances against many antibiotics, especially in hospital infections. Researchers at the Paul-Ehrlich-Institut have identified immunological processes that prevent a successful immune response directed against the pathogenic agent. The delivery of bacterial proteins with RNA adjuvant or messenger RNA (mRNA) into immune cells allows the re-direction of the immune response towards an active defense against S. aureus. This could be of significant importance for the development of an effective vaccine. PLOS Pathogens has published these research results online on 25 May 2017.
Staphylococcus aureus (S. aureus) is a bacterium that colonizes by far more than half of the skin and the mucosa of adults, usually without causing infections....
Physicists from the University of Würzburg are capable of generating identical looking single light particles at the push of a button. Two new studies now demonstrate the potential this method holds.
The quantum computer has fuelled the imagination of scientists for decades: It is based on fundamentally different phenomena than a conventional computer....
An international team of physicists has monitored the scattering behaviour of electrons in a non-conducting material in real-time. Their insights could be beneficial for radiotherapy.
We can refer to electrons in non-conducting materials as ‘sluggish’. Typically, they remain fixed in a location, deep inside an atomic composite. It is hence...
Two-dimensional magnetic structures are regarded as a promising material for new types of data storage, since the magnetic properties of individual molecular building blocks can be investigated and modified. For the first time, researchers have now produced a wafer-thin ferrimagnet, in which molecules with different magnetic centers arrange themselves on a gold surface to form a checkerboard pattern. Scientists at the Swiss Nanoscience Institute at the University of Basel and the Paul Scherrer Institute published their findings in the journal Nature Communications.
Ferrimagnets are composed of two centers which are magnetized at different strengths and point in opposing directions. Two-dimensional, quasi-flat ferrimagnets...
An Australian-Chinese research team has created the world's thinnest hologram, paving the way towards the integration of 3D holography into everyday...
24.05.2017 | Event News
23.05.2017 | Event News
22.05.2017 | Event News
26.05.2017 | Life Sciences
26.05.2017 | Life Sciences
26.05.2017 | Physics and Astronomy