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Brain Res Dev Brain Res. 2001 Aug 23;129(2):211-4.

Norepinephrine is required for the anticonvulsant effect of the ketogenic diet.

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Geriatric Research, Education and Clinical Center (GRECC) (182B), VA Puget Sound Health Care System, 1660 S. Columbian Way, Seattle, WA 98108, USA.


Ketogenic diet (KD) is a high fat, low carbohydrate diet used to treat children with epilepsy that are refractory to conventional antiepileptic drugs (AEDs). The anticonvulsant mechanism of the KD is unknown. To determine if the noradrenergic system has a role in mediating the anticonvulsant action of the KD, dopamine beta-hydroxylase knockout (Dbh -/-) mice that lack norepinephrine (NE) and Dbh +/- littermates that have normal NE content were fed either a standard rodent chow or the KD. When exposed to the convulsant flurothyl, Dbh +/- mice fed the KD had significantly longer latencies to myoclonic jerk (MJ) and generalized clonic-tonic (CT) seizures than Dbh +/- mice fed normal chow. In contrast, Dbh -/- mice fed the KD had seizure latencies to both MJ and CT comparable to Dbh -/- mice fed normal chow. These results suggest that an intact, functional noradrenergic nervous system is required for the KD to exert an anticonvulsant effect.

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