Effects of a medium-chain triglyceride-based ketogenic formula on cognitive function in patients with mild-to-moderate Alzheimer's disease

Neurosci Lett. 2019 Jan 18;690:232-236. doi: 10.1016/j.neulet.2018.10.048. Epub 2018 Oct 24.


Clinical and animal studies suggested that a medium-chain triglyceride (MCT)-based ketogenic diet provides an alternative energy substrate to the brain and has neuroprotective effects, but the clinical evidence is still scarce. Here we examined the effect of an MCT-based ketogenic formula on cognitive function in patients with Alzheimer's disease (AD). The subjects were 20 Japanese patients with mild-to-moderate AD (11 males, nine females, mean age 73.4 ± 6.0 years) who, on separate days, underwent neurocognitive tests 120 min after consuming 50 g of a ketogenic formula (Ketonformula®) containing 20 g of MCTs or an isocaloric placebo formula without MCTs. The patients then took 50 g of the ketogenic formula daily for up to 12 weeks, and underwent neurocognitive tests monthly. In the first trial, although the patients' plasma levels of ketone bodies were successfully increased 120 min after the single intake of the ketogenic formula, there was no significant difference in any cognitive test results between the administrations of the ketogenic and placebo formulae. In the subsequent chronic intake trial of the ketogenic formula, 16 of the 20 patients completed the 12-week regimen. At 8 weeks after the trial's start, the patients showed significant improvement in their immediate and delayed logical memory tests compared to their baseline scores, and at 12 weeks they showed significant improvements in the digit-symbol coding test and immediate logical memory test compared to the baseline. The chronic consumption of the ketogenic formula was therefore suggested to have positive effects on verbal memory and processing speed in patients with AD.

Keywords: Acetoacetate; Alzheimer's disease; Cognition; Ketogenic formula; Medium chain triglyceride; β-Hydroxybutyrate.

Publication types

  • Controlled Clinical Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Alzheimer Disease / blood
  • Alzheimer Disease / diet therapy*
  • Alzheimer Disease / psychology*
  • Cognition / drug effects*
  • Diet, Ketogenic*
  • Double-Blind Method
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Ketone Bodies / blood
  • Male
  • Neuropsychological Tests
  • Triglycerides / chemistry*
  • Triglycerides / therapeutic use*


  • Ketone Bodies
  • Triglycerides