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Epilepsy Res Treat. 2011;2011:963637. doi: 10.1155/2011/963637. Epub 2011 Jun 5.

The ketogenic diet 2011: how it works.

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Department of Pediatric and Adolescent Neurology, Schneider Children's Medical Center of Israel, Faculty of Medicine, Tel Aviv University, Tel Aviv, Israel.


Although the ketogenic diet (KD) has been widely accepted as a legitimate and successful therapy for epilepsy and other neurological disorders, its mechanism of action remains an enigma. The use of the KD causes major metabolic changes. The most significant of them seems to be the situation of chronic ketosis, but there are others as well, for instance, high level of polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs). These "primary" influences lead to "secondary", in part adaptive, effects, for instance changes in mitochondrial density and gene expression. Clinically, the influences of the diet are considered as anticonvulsive and neuroprotective, although neuroprotection can also lead to prevention of seizures. Potential clinical implications of these mechanisms are discussed.

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