Nutritional ketosis has been proven effective for seizure disorders and other neurological disorders. The focus of this study was to determine the effects of ketone supplementation on anxiety-related behavior in Sprague-Dawley (SPD) and Wistar Albino Glaxo/Rijswijk (WAG/Rij) rats. We tested exogenous ketone supplements added to food and fed chronically for 83 days in SPD rats and administered sub-chronically for 7 days in both rat models by daily intragastric gavage bolus followed by assessment of anxiety measures on elevated plus maze (EPM). The groups included standard diet (SD) or SD + ketone supplementation. Low-dose ketone ester (LKE; 1,3-butanediol-acetoacetate diester, ~10 g/kg/day, LKE), high dose ketone ester (HKE; ~25 g/kg/day, HKE), beta-hydroxybutyrate-mineral salt (βHB-S; ~25 g/kg/day, KS) and βHB-S + medium chain triglyceride (MCT; ~25 g/kg/day, KSMCT) were used as ketone supplementation for chronic administration. To extend our results, exogenous ketone supplements were also tested sub-chronically on SPD rats (KE, KS and KSMCT; 5 g/kg/day) and on WAG/Rij rats (KE, KS and KSMCT; 2.5 g/kg/day). At the end of treatments behavioral data collection was conducted manually by a blinded observer and with a video-tracking system, after which blood βHB and glucose levels were measured. Ketone supplementation reduced anxiety on EPM as measured by less entries to closed arms (sub-chronic KE and KS: SPD rats and KSMCT: WAG/Rij rats), more time spent in open arms (sub-chronic KE: SPD and KSMCT: WAG/Rij rats; chronic KSMCT: SPD rats), more distance traveled in open arms (chronic KS and KSMCT: SPD rats) and by delayed latency to entrance to closed arms (chronic KSMCT: SPD rats), when compared to control. Our data indicates that chronic and sub-chronic ketone supplementation not only elevated blood βHB levels in both animal models, but reduced anxiety-related behavior. We conclude that ketone supplementation may represent a promising anxiolytic strategy through a novel means of inducing nutritional ketosis.
Keywords: animal models; anxiety; elevated plus maze; exogenous ketone supplements; ketones.