DOI: 10.3390/metabo14010025 ISSN: 2218-1989

A Potential Role for the Ketogenic Diet in Alzheimer’s Disease Treatment: Exploring Pre-Clinical and Clinical Evidence

Tadeu P. D. Oliveira, Ana L. B. Morais, Pedro L. B. dos Reis, András Palotás, Luciene B. Vieira
  • Molecular Biology
  • Biochemistry
  • Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism

Given the remarkable progress in global health and overall quality of life, the significant rise in life expectancy has become intertwined with the surging occurrence of neurodegenerative disorders (NDs). This emerging trend is poised to pose a substantial challenge to the fields of medicine and public health in the years ahead. In this context, Alzheimer’s disease (AD) is regarded as an ND that causes recent memory loss, motor impairment and cognitive deficits. AD is the most common cause of dementia in the elderly and its development is linked to multifactorial interactions between the environment, genetics, aging and lifestyle. The pathological hallmarks in AD are the accumulation of β-amyloid peptide (Aβ), the hyperphosphorylation of tau protein, neurotoxic events and impaired glucose metabolism. Due to pharmacological limitations and in view of the prevailing glycemic hypometabolism, the ketogenic diet (KD) emerges as a promising non-pharmacological possibility for managing AD, an approach that has already demonstrated efficacy in addressing other disorders, notably epilepsy. The KD consists of a food regimen in which carbohydrate intake is discouraged at the expense of increased lipid consumption, inducing metabolic ketosis whereby the main source of energy becomes ketone bodies instead of glucose. Thus, under these dietary conditions, neuronal death via lack of energy would be decreased, inasmuch as the metabolism of lipids is not impaired in AD. In this way, the clinical picture of patients with AD would potentially improve via the slowing down of symptoms and delaying of the progression of the disease. Hence, this review aims to explore the rationale behind utilizing the KD in AD treatment while emphasizing the metabolic interplay between the KD and the improvement of AD indicators, drawing insights from both preclinical and clinical investigations. Via a comprehensive examination of the studies detailed in this review, it is evident that the KD emerges as a promising alternative for managing AD. Moreover, its efficacy is notably enhanced when dietary composition is modified, thereby opening up innovative avenues for decreasing the progression of AD.

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