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Epilepsy Res. 2002 Apr;49(2):99-107.

The ketogenic diet upregulates expression of the gene encoding the key ketogenic enzyme mitochondrial 3-hydroxy-3-methylglutaryl-CoA synthase in rat brain.

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Department of Clinical and Molecular Pharmacokinetics/Pharmacodynamics, Faculty of Pharmaceutical Sciences, Showa University, 1-5-8 Hatanodai, Shinagawa-ku, Tokyo 142-8555, Japan.


The ketogenic diet is a clinically and experimentally effective anti-epileptic treatment whose molecular mechanism(s) of action remain to be elucidated. As a first step in defining its effects on regulation of fatty acid oxidation and ketogenesis at the genetic level, we have administered to rats: (1) a calorie-restricted ketogenic diet (KCR); (2) a calorie-restricted normal diet (NCR); or (3) a normal diet ad libitum (NAL). We have used RNase protection to co-assay diet-induced changes in abundance of the mRNA encoding the critical enzyme of ketogenesis from acetyl-CoA namely mitochondrial 3-hydroxy-3-methylglutaryl-CoA synthase (mHS) in liver and brain, together with mRNAs encoding three other key enzymes of fatty acid oxidation. We demonstrate that NCR-fed rats exhibit a significant 2-fold increase in liver mHS mRNA compared to NAL-fed rats, and that KCR-fed rats exhibit a significant 2-fold increase in both liver and brain mHS mRNA compared to NAL-fed rats. Our results demonstrate, for the first time, the effect of a ketogenic diet on gene expression in brain, and suggest possible anti-epileptic mechanisms for future investigation.

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