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Annu Rev Nutr. 2017 Aug 21;37:51-76. doi: 10.1146/annurev-nutr-071816-064916.

β-Hydroxybutyrate: A Signaling Metabolite.

Newman JC1,2,3, Verdin E1,2,3.

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Buck Institute for Research on Aging, Novato, California 94945; email: ,
Gladstone Institutes, San Francisco, California 94158.
Division of Geriatrics, University of California, San Francisco, California 94143.


Various mechanisms in the mammalian body provide resilience against food deprivation and dietary stress. The ketone body β-hydroxybutyrate (BHB) is synthesized in the liver from fatty acids and represents an essential carrier of energy from the liver to peripheral tissues when the supply of glucose is too low for the body's energetic needs, such as during periods of prolonged exercise, starvation, or absence of dietary carbohydrates. In addition to its activity as an energetic metabolite, BHB is increasingly understood to have cellular signaling functions. These signaling functions of BHB broadly link the outside environment to epigenetic gene regulation and cellular function, and their actions may be relevant to a variety of human diseases as well as human aging.


aging; epigenetics; fasting; ketone bodies; metabolism

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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