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J Clin Invest. 2011 Jul;121(7):2548-50. doi: 10.1172/JCI58391. Epub 2011 Jun 23.

Adenosine: front and center in linking nutrition and metabolism to neuronal activity.

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Department of Psychiatry, University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center and Dallas VA Medical Center, Dallas, Texas 75390, USA.


Many individuals with epilepsy benefit from consuming a ketogenic diet, which is similar to the more commonly known Atkins diet. The underlying molecular reason for this has not been determined. However, in this issue of the JCI, Masino et al. have elucidated the mechanism responsible for the antiepileptic effects of the ketogenic diet in mice. The diet is shown to decrease expression of the enzyme adenosine kinase (Adk), which is responsible for clearing the endogenous antiepileptic agent adenosine (Ado) from the extracellular CNS space. Decreased expression of Adk results in increased extracellular Ado, activation of inhibitory Ado A1 receptors, and decreased seizure generation, the desired therapeutic effect. The authors' work serves to emphasize the importance of controlling Adk expression, not only as the mechanism of action of the ketogenic diet, but also as a potential target of future therapies.

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