Background: The successful treatment of malignant gliomas remains a challenge despite the current standard of care, which consists of surgery, radiation and temozolomide. Advances in the survival of brain cancer patients require the design of new therapeutic approaches that take advantage of common phenotypes such as the altered metabolism found in cancer cells. It has therefore been postulated that the high-fat, low-carbohydrate, adequate protein ketogenic diet (KD) may be useful in the treatment of brain tumors. We have demonstrated that the KD enhances survival and potentiates standard therapy in a mouse model of malignant glioma, yet the mechanisms are not fully understood.
Methods: To explore the effects of the KD on various aspects of tumor growth and progression, we used the immunocompetent, syngeneic GL261-Luc2 mouse model of malignant glioma.
Results: Tumors from animals maintained on KD showed reduced expression of the hypoxia marker carbonic anhydrase 9, hypoxia inducible factor 1-alpha, and decreased activation of nuclear factor kappa B. Additionally, tumors from animals maintained on KD had reduced tumor microvasculature and decreased expression of vascular endothelial growth factor receptor 2, matrix metalloproteinase-2 and vimentin. Peritumoral edema was significantly reduced in animals fed the KD and protein analyses showed altered expression of zona occludens-1 and aquaporin-4.
Conclusions: The KD directly or indirectly alters the expression of several proteins involved in malignant progression and may be a useful tool for the treatment of gliomas.