Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Ketogenic diet prevents seizures by enhancing brain energy production, increasing neuron stability

14.11.2005


Although the high-fat, calorie-restricted ketogenic diet (KD) has long been used to prevent childhood epileptic seizures that are unresponsive to drugs, physicians have not really understood exactly why the diet works. New studies by a research team at Emory University School of Medicine show that the diet alters genes involved in energy metabolism in the brain, which in turn helps stabilize the function of neurons exposed to the challenges of epileptic seizures. This knowledge could help scientists identify specific molecular or genetic targets and lead to more effective drug treatments for epilepsy and brain damage.

The research will be presented at the annual meeting of the Society for Neuroscience in Washington, D.C. by Kristopher Bough, PhD, a postdoctoral student in the laboratory of Emory pharmacology professor Raymond Dingledine, PhD.

"These findings support our hypothesis that a dietary regimen can dramatically affect the expression of genes and the function of neurons within the brain, which enhances the ability of these neurons to withstand the metabolic challenges of epileptic seizures," Dr. Dingledine said.



The ketogenic diet causes molecules called ketone bodies to be produced as fat is broken down. Scientists have understood that these molecules somehow cause a change in metabolism leading to a potent anticonvulsant effect. According to some animal studies they also may limit the progression of epilepsy.

The Emory research team studied the link between diet and epileptic seizures on the behavioral, cellular and genetic level. They found, as had others, that in rats fed the KD the resistance to seizures develops slowly, over one to two weeks, in contrast to rats treated with conventional anticonvulsant drugs. On the cellular level, they found that the anticonvulsant effect of the ketogenic diet did not correlate with a rise in plasma ketone levels or with a decrease in plasma glucose. Because longer treatment with the KD was necessary to increase the resistance to seizures, they concluded that changes in gene expression might hold the key to the diet’s anticonvulsant effects.

To identify which genes might be involved, the researchers used microarray "gene chips" to examine changes in gene expression for more than 7,000 rat genes simultaneously. They focused on the hippocampus, a region of the brain known to play an important role in many kinds of epilepsies. More than 500 of the genes they examined were correlated with treatment with the KD. The most striking finding was the coordinated up-regulation of genes involved in energy metabolism.

To explain this genetic effect, the scientists first eliminated the possibility that the KD diet might cause enhanced production of GABA, a chemical messenger in the brain that helps limit seizure activity. They found that GABA levels in the hippocampus were unchanged with the KD.

To test whether energy reserves in hippocampal neurons were enhanced with the KD, they counted the number of energy "factories," or mitochondria, within cells using electron microscopy. They found that KD treatment significantly increased the number of mitochondria per unit area in the hippocampus. This finding, along with the concerted increase in the expression of genes encoding energy metabolic enzymes, led them to conclude that KD treatment enhances energy production in the hippocampus and may lead to improved neuronal stability.

Finally, the researchers tested whether brain tissue affected by the KD would be more resistant to low levels of glucose (an effect of seizures) because of their enhanced energy reserves. They found that synaptic communication in KD-fed rats was more resistant to low glucose levels than in control animals fed a regular diet.

The researchers believe their new knowledge could lead to the development of more effective drug treatments for epilepsy and brain damage.

And because the diet enhances the brain’s ability to withstand metabolic challenges, they also believe the ketogenic diet should be studied as a possible treatment for other neurodegenerative disorders such as Alzheimer’s or Parkinson’s diseases.

Holly Korschun | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.whsc.emory.edu

More articles from Health and Medicine:

nachricht Nanoparticles as a Solution against Antibiotic Resistance?
15.12.2017 | Friedrich-Schiller-Universität Jena

nachricht Plasmonic biosensors enable development of new easy-to-use health tests
14.12.2017 | Aalto University

All articles from Health and Medicine >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: First-of-its-kind chemical oscillator offers new level of molecular control

DNA molecules that follow specific instructions could offer more precise molecular control of synthetic chemical systems, a discovery that opens the door for engineers to create molecular machines with new and complex behaviors.

Researchers have created chemical amplifiers and a chemical oscillator using a systematic method that has the potential to embed sophisticated circuit...

Im Focus: Long-lived storage of a photonic qubit for worldwide teleportation

MPQ scientists achieve long storage times for photonic quantum bits which break the lower bound for direct teleportation in a global quantum network.

Concerning the development of quantum memories for the realization of global quantum networks, scientists of the Quantum Dynamics Division led by Professor...

Im Focus: Electromagnetic water cloak eliminates drag and wake

Detailed calculations show water cloaks are feasible with today's technology

Researchers have developed a water cloaking concept based on electromagnetic forces that could eliminate an object's wake, greatly reducing its drag while...

Im Focus: Scientists channel graphene to understand filtration and ion transport into cells

Tiny pores at a cell's entryway act as miniature bouncers, letting in some electrically charged atoms--ions--but blocking others. Operating as exquisitely sensitive filters, these "ion channels" play a critical role in biological functions such as muscle contraction and the firing of brain cells.

To rapidly transport the right ions through the cell membrane, the tiny channels rely on a complex interplay between the ions and surrounding molecules,...

Im Focus: Towards data storage at the single molecule level

The miniaturization of the current technology of storage media is hindered by fundamental limits of quantum mechanics. A new approach consists in using so-called spin-crossover molecules as the smallest possible storage unit. Similar to normal hard drives, these special molecules can save information via their magnetic state. A research team from Kiel University has now managed to successfully place a new class of spin-crossover molecules onto a surface and to improve the molecule’s storage capacity. The storage density of conventional hard drives could therefore theoretically be increased by more than one hundred fold. The study has been published in the scientific journal Nano Letters.

Over the past few years, the building blocks of storage media have gotten ever smaller. But further miniaturization of the current technology is hindered by...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

See, understand and experience the work of the future

11.12.2017 | Event News

Innovative strategies to tackle parasitic worms

08.12.2017 | Event News

AKL’18: The opportunities and challenges of digitalization in the laser industry

07.12.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Engineers program tiny robots to move, think like insects

15.12.2017 | Power and Electrical Engineering

One in 5 materials chemistry papers may be wrong, study suggests

15.12.2017 | Materials Sciences

New antbird species discovered in Peru by LSU ornithologists

15.12.2017 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>