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J Gerontol A Biol Sci Med Sci. 2018 Mar 14;73(4):450-458. doi: 10.1093/gerona/glx193.

The Antiepileptic Ketogenic Diet Alters Hippocampal Transporter Levels and Reduces Adiposity in Aged Rats.

Author information

Department of Neuroscience, McKnight Brain Institute.
Institute on Aging, University of Florida, Gainesville.
Department of Biomedical Engineering, University of Florida, Gainesville.


Nutritional ketosis is induced by high fat/low carbohydrate dietary regimens, which produce high levels of circulating ketone bodies, shifting metabolism away from glucose utilization. While ketogenic diets (KD) were initially introduced to suppress seizures, they are garnering attention for their potential to treat a myriad of neurodegenerative and metabolic disorders that are associated with advanced age. The feasibility and physiological impact of implementing a long-term KD in old animals, however, has not been systematically examined. In this study, young and aged rats consumed a calorically- and nutritionally-matched KD or control diet for 12 weeks. All KD-fed rats maintained higher levels of BHB and lower levels of glucose relative to controls. However, it took the aged rats longer to reach asymptotic levels of BHB compared to young animals. Moreover, KD-fed rats had significantly less visceral white and brown adipose tissue than controls without a loss of lean mass. Interestingly, the KD led to significant alterations in protein levels of hippocampal transporters for monocarboxylates, glucose, and vesicular glutamate and gamma-aminobutyric acid. Most notably, the age-related decline in vesicular glutamate transporter expression was reversed by the KD. These data demonstrate the feasibility and potential benefits of KDs for treating age-associated neural dysfunction.

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