Pathways and control of ketone body metabolism: on the fringe of lipid biochemistry

Prostaglandins Leukot Essent Fatty Acids. 2004 Mar;70(3):243-51. doi: 10.1016/j.plefa.2003.11.001.


Ketone bodies become major body fuels during fasting and consumption of a high-fat, low-carbohydrate (ketogenic) diet. Hyperketonemia is associated with potential health benefits. Ketone body synthesis (ketogenesis) is the last recognizable step of lipid energy metabolism, a pathway that links dietary lipids and adipose triglycerides to the Krebs cycle and respiratory chain and has three highly regulated control points: (1) adipocyte lipolysis, (2) mitochondrial fatty acids entry, controlled by the inhibition of carnitine palmityl transferase I by malonyl coenzyme A (CoA) and (3) mitochondrial 3-hydroxy-3-methylglutaryl CoA synthase, which catalyzes the irreversible first step of ketone body synthesis. Each step is suppressed by an elevated circulating insulin level or insulin/glucagon ratio. The utilization of ketone bodies (ketolysis) also determines circulating ketone body levels. Consideration of ketone body metabolism reveals the mechanisms underlying the extreme fragility of dietary ketosis to carbohydrate intake and highlights areas for further study.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adipocytes / metabolism
  • Animals
  • Humans
  • Ketone Bodies / biosynthesis
  • Ketone Bodies / metabolism*
  • Lipid Metabolism*
  • Lipolysis
  • Mitochondria / metabolism


  • Ketone Bodies