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Epilepsia. 2008 Feb;49(2):334-9. Epub 2007 Dec 6.

Efficacy of the ketogenic diet in the 6-Hz seizure test.

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Epilepsy Research Section, National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, Maryland, USA.



Since the ketogenic diet is effective in drug-resistant epilepsies, we sought to determine whether it is active in the 6-Hz seizure test, which identifies agents with a broader spectrum of activity than conventional antiepileptic screening tests.


Male (3-4 week old) NIH Swiss mice were fed a normal or ketogenic diet ad libitum for 2-21 days. The intensity of the corneal stimulation current required to elicit seizures in the 6-Hz test was measured. Blood glucose and beta-hydroxybutyrate were measured on the day of seizure testing.


CC(50) (current intensity producing seizures in 50% of mice tested) was 50.6 mA and 15 mA in mice fed for 12 days with a ketogenic or normal diet, respectively (p < 0.001). CC(50) was elevated in separate experiments after 16, but not 2, 5, and 21 days of ketogenic diet exposure. CC(50) values of growing mice fed the normal diet does not differ, indicating CC(50) does not vary with mouse weight during a rapid growth phase. beta-Hydroxybutyrate was significantly higher, and glucose was significantly lower in mice fed the ketogenic diet than those fed the normal diet. Blood glucose and beta-hydroxybutyrate levels did not correlate with CC(50).


The ketogenic diet significantly elevates the seizure threshold in the 6-Hz test in a time-specific manner. Protection from seizures in this model was not related to level of ketosis. CC(50) was insensitive to body weight in mice fed the normal diet, demonstrating that the 6-Hz model can assess anticonvulsant regimens where weight is a confounding factor.

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