The effects of a ketogenic diet on behavioral outcome after controlled cortical impact injury in the juvenile and adult rat

J Neurotrauma. 2009 Apr;26(4):497-506. doi: 10.1089/neu.2008.0664.


The ketogenic diet has been shown to have unique properties that make it a more suitable cerebral fuel under various neuropathological conditions (e.g., starvation, ischemia, and traumatic brain injury (TBI). Recently, age-dependent ketogenic neuroprotection was shown among postnatal day 35 (PND35) and PND45 rats after TBI, but not in PND17 and PND65 animals (Prins et al., 2005). The present study addresses the therapeutic potential of a ketogenic diet on motor and cognitive deficits after TBI. PND35 and PND75 rats received sham or controlled cortical impact (CCI) surgery and were placed on either standard (Std) or ketogenic (KG) diet for 7 days. Beam walking and the Morris water maze (MWM) were used to assess sensory motor function and cognition, respectively. PND35 CCI Std animals showed significantly longer traverse times than sham and CCI KG animals at the beginning of motor training. Footslip analysis revealed better performance among the sham and the CCI KG animals compared to the CCI Std group. In the MWM PND35 CCI KG animals showed significantly shorter escape latencies compared to CCI Std-fed animals. During the same time period there was no significant difference between sham animals and CCI KG animals. The therapeutic effect of the ketogenic diet on beam walking and cognitive performance was not observed in PND75 animals. This finding supports our theory about age-dependent utilization and effectiveness of ketones as an alternative fuel after TBI.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aging / metabolism*
  • Animals
  • Behavior, Animal / physiology
  • Brain / growth & development
  • Brain / metabolism*
  • Brain / physiopathology
  • Brain Injuries / diet therapy*
  • Brain Injuries / metabolism*
  • Brain Injuries / physiopathology
  • Cognition Disorders / diet therapy
  • Cognition Disorders / etiology
  • Cognition Disorders / physiopathology
  • Diet, Ketogenic / methods*
  • Disease Models, Animal
  • Male
  • Maze Learning / physiology
  • Movement Disorders / diet therapy
  • Movement Disorders / etiology
  • Movement Disorders / physiopathology
  • Nerve Degeneration / diet therapy*
  • Nerve Degeneration / metabolism
  • Nerve Degeneration / prevention & control
  • Psychomotor Performance / physiology
  • Rats
  • Reaction Time / physiology
  • Recovery of Function / physiology
  • Time Factors
  • Treatment Outcome