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Prostaglandins Leukot Essent Fatty Acids. 2002 Aug-Sep;67(2-3):131-5.

Potential role of polyunsaturates in seizure protection achieved with the ketogenic diet.

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Department of Nutritional Sciences, Faculty of Medicine, University of Toronto, Toronto, Canada.


Epilepsy is a serious neurological disease that responds to two very different treatments involving lipids. Clinically, it responds to a state of ketosis induced by a very high-fat 'ketogenic' diet. Experimentally, in vitro and in vivo models demonstrate that injection or infusion of free (non-esterified) polyunsaturates such as arachidonate and docosahexaenoate also reduces seizure susceptibility. In our experience, rats on a very high-fat ketogenic diet not only have mild-to-moderate ketosis, but also have raised serum free fatty acids. Some polyunsaturates, particularly linoleate and alpha-linolenate, are relatively easily beta-oxidized and are therefore ketogenic. We conclude that raised levels of free plasma polyunsaturates could contribute to the beneficial effect of the ketogenic diet in refractory epilepsy not only by helping sustain ketosis, but also by their own direct (though poorly defined) antiseizure effects.

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