Research Article| Volume 107, P52-59, April 2023

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Comprehensive study of metabolic changes induced by a ketogenic diet therapy using GC/MS- and LC/MS-based metabolomics


      • Effects of the ketogenic diet on human plasma and urine metabolome were studied.
      • Various metabolites upstream of acetyl-CoA and propionyl-CoA were elevated.
      • Changed metabolites may hint toward developing new anti-seizure medications.



      The ketogenic diet (KD), a high-fat and low-carbohydrate diet, is effective for a subset of patients with drug-resistant epilepsy, although the mechanisms of the KD have not been fully elucidated. The aims of this observational study were to investigate comprehensive short-term metabolic changes induced by the KD and to explore candidate metabolites or pathways for potential new therapeutic targets.


      Subjects included patients with intractable epilepsy who had undergone the KD therapy (the medium-chain triglyceride [MCT] KD or the modified Atkins diet using MCT oil). Plasma and urine samples were obtained before and at 2–4 weeks after initiation of the KD. Targeted metabolome analyses of these samples were performed using gas chromatography-tandem mass spectrometry (GC/MS/MS) and liquid chromatography-tandem mass spectrometry (LC/MS/MS).


      Samples from 10 and 11 patients were analysed using GC/MS/MS and LC/MS/MS, respectively. The KD increased ketone bodies, various fatty acids, lipids, and their conjugates. In addition, levels of metabolites located upstream of acetyl-CoA and propionyl-CoA, including catabolites of branched-chain amino acids and structural analogues of γ-aminobutyric acid and lactic acid, were elevated.


      The metabolites that were significantly changed after the initiation of the KD and related metabolites may be candidates for further studies for neuronal actions to develop new anti-seizure medications.


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