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Brain Struct Funct.2020 Jul;10.1007/s00429-020-02111-9. doi: 10.1007/s00429-020-02111-9.Epub 2020-07-17.


MRI spectroscopic and tractography studies indicate consequences of long-term ketogenic diet.

  • Kinga Gzieło
  • Krzysztof Janeczko
  • Władysław Węglarz
  • Krzysztof Jasiński
  • Krzysztof Kłodowski
  • Zuzanna Setkowicz
PMID: 32681181 DOI: 10.1007/s00429-020-02111-9.



To maintain its functional abilities, the mature brain obtains energy from glucose produced in carbohydrate metabolism. When carbohydrates are eliminated from the diet, the energy comes from the oxidation of fatty acids. In this metabolic state called ketosis, ketone bodies are formed: β-hydroxybutyric acid (bHb), acetone, and acetoacetate as alternative source of energy passing through the blood-brain barrier easily. The ketosis state can be achieved through various strategies like caloric restriction, supplementation with medium-chain triglycerides, intense physical training, or ketogenic diet (KD). Using KD, drug-resistant epilepsy has been successfully treated in children and adults. It can also exert neuroprotective influences in cases of brain damage, glioblastoma multiforme, and Alzheimer's or Parkinson's diseases. Although many possible mechanisms of KD activity have been proposed, newer hypotheses appear with the research progress, mostly characterizing the brain under pathological but not normal conditions. Since different pathological conditions may affect the mechanism of KD action differently, additional research on the normal brain appears reasonable. For this purpose, young adult rats were treated with 4-month-lasting KD. Then, MRI structural measurements, spectroscopy, and tractography were performed. The procedures revealed significant increases in the concentration of glutamine, glutamate, glutathione and NAA, accompanied by changes in the pattern of neuronal connections of the striatum and hippocampal formation. This implies a possible involvement of these structures in the functional changes occurring in the brain after KD application. Thus, the investigations on the normal brain add important details concerning mechanisms underlying KD effects without their possible modification by a pathological status.