Diet-induced ketosis increases capillary density without altered blood flow in rat brain

Am J Physiol Endocrinol Metab. 2007 Jun;292(6):E1607-15. doi: 10.1152/ajpendo.00512.2006. Epub 2007 Feb 6.


It is recognized that ketone bodies, such as R-beta-hydroxybutyrate (beta-HB) and acetoacetate, are energy sources for the brain. As with glucose metabolism, monocarboxylate uptake by the brain is dependent on the function and regulation of its own transporter system. We concurrently investigated ketone body influx, blood flow, and regulation of monocarboxylate transporter (MCT-1) and glucose transporter (GLUT-1) in diet-induced ketotic (KG) rat brain. Regional blood-to-brain beta-HB influx (micromol.g(-1).min(-1)) increased 40-fold with ketosis (4.8 +/- 1.8 plasmabeta-HB; mM) in all regions compared with the nonketotic groups (standard and no-fat diets); there were no changes in regional blood flow. Immunohistochemical staining revealed that GLUT-1 density (number/mm2) in the cortex was significantly elevated (40%) in the ketotic group compared with the standard and no-fat diet groups. MCT-1 was also markedly (3-fold) upregulated in the ketotic group compared with the standard diet group. In the standard diet group, 40% of the brain capillaries stained positive for MCT-1; this amount doubled with the ketotic diet. Western blot analysis of isolated microvessels from ketotic rat brain showed an eightfold increase in GLUT-1 and a threefold increase in MCT-1 compared with the standard diet group. These data suggest that diet-induced ketosis results in increased vascular density at the blood-brain barrier without changes in blood flow. The increase in extraction fraction and capillary density with increased plasma ketone bodies indicates a significant flux of substrates available for brain energy metabolism.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • 3-Hydroxybutyric Acid / blood
  • 3-Hydroxybutyric Acid / metabolism
  • Animals
  • Blood Vessels / metabolism
  • Blood-Brain Barrier
  • Brain / blood supply*
  • Brain / metabolism
  • Capillaries / metabolism
  • Capillaries / pathology
  • Cerebrovascular Circulation*
  • Diet*
  • Glucose Transporter Type 1 / metabolism
  • Ketosis / etiology
  • Ketosis / pathology*
  • Ketosis / physiopathology*
  • Male
  • Microcirculation
  • Monocarboxylic Acid Transporters / metabolism
  • Osmolar Concentration
  • Rats
  • Rats, Wistar
  • Symporters / metabolism
  • Tissue Distribution


  • Glucose Transporter Type 1
  • Monocarboxylic Acid Transporters
  • Slc2a1 protein, rat
  • Symporters
  • monocarboxylate transport protein 1
  • 3-Hydroxybutyric Acid