Susan Masino’s Article on Ketogenic Diet Published in Journal of Lipid Research

Research Helps to Explain How Diet Can Treat Epileptic Seizures

Hartford, CT, November 7, 2014 – The ketogenic diet is an almost century-old treatment for epileptic seizures. Initially developed to mimic fasting, a practice known to be effective in reducing seizures, it has been effective, but the reason why has
long been a mystery.

Susan Masino, Vernon Roosa Professor of Applied Science, tested the hypothesis that the diet works via adenosine, a seizure-control molecule produced by the brain. In her previous research, the ketogenic diet was fed to mice with and without adenosine receptors. The mice without adenosine receptors were unaffected by the diet, but those with the receptors saw their seizures stop completely.

In this paper, published in the Journal of Lipid Research, Masino and her colleagues add to the mounting evidence that adenosine is key to the ketogenic diet’s treatment of seizures. She found that adenosine’s effects are related to changes in glucose, and that the ketogenic diet makes the brain more sensitive to changes in glucose. The ketogenic diet causes a low but stable blood glucose level. Recent research has shown that higher glucose levels are associated with brain atrophy, and diabetes and prediabetes are associated with cognitive dysfunction. For someone on the ketogenic diet, an increase in glucose levels will result in a seizure.

The paper, called “Ketogenic Diet Sensitizes Glucose Control of Hippocampal Excitability” was published in the November 2014 issue of the Journal of Lipid Research and can be found here. Her research was funded by the National Institute of Health and the National Science Foundation. The paper is the latest in a series initiated by Boston College’s Thomas N. Seyfried, professor of biology, called “Thematic Review Series: Calorie Restriction and Ketogenic Diets.”