The therapeutic implications of ketone bodies: the effects of ketone bodies in pathological conditions: ketosis, ketogenic diet, redox states, insulin resistance, and mitochondrial metabolism

Prostaglandins Leukot Essent Fatty Acids. 2004 Mar;70(3):309-19. doi: 10.1016/j.plefa.2003.09.007.


The effects of ketone body metabolism suggests that mild ketosis may offer therapeutic potential in a variety of different common and rare disease states. These inferences follow directly from the metabolic effects of ketosis and the higher inherent energy present in d-beta-hydroxybutyrate relative to pyruvate, the normal mitochondrial fuel produced by glycolysis leading to an increase in the DeltaG' of ATP hydrolysis. The large categories of disease for which ketones may have therapeutic effects are:(1)diseases of substrate insufficiency or insulin resistance,(2)diseases resulting from free radical damage,(3)disease resulting from hypoxia. Current ketogenic diets are all characterized by elevations of free fatty acids, which may lead to metabolic inefficiency by activation of the PPAR system and its associated uncoupling mitochondrial uncoupling proteins. New diets comprised of ketone bodies themselves or their esters may obviate this present difficulty.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Brain Diseases / metabolism*
  • Brain Diseases / pathology
  • Brain Diseases / therapy
  • Diabetes Mellitus / metabolism*
  • Diabetes Mellitus / pathology
  • Diabetes Mellitus / therapy
  • Diet*
  • Humans
  • Insulin Resistance / physiology*
  • Ketone Bodies / metabolism*
  • Ketone Bodies / therapeutic use*
  • Mitochondria / metabolism*
  • Oxidation-Reduction
  • Salts / metabolism


  • Ketone Bodies
  • Salts