Lysosomal Acid Lipase as a Molecular Target of the Very Low Carbohydrate Ketogenic Diet in Morbidly Obese Patients: The Potential Effects on Liver Steatosis and Cardiovascular Risk Factors

J Clin Med. 2019 May 7;8(5):621. doi: 10.3390/jcm8050621.


A very low carbohydrate ketogenic diet (VLCKD) is an emerging technique to induce a significant, well-tolerated, and rapid loss of body weight in morbidly obese patients. The low activity of lysosomal acid lipase (LAL) could be involved in the pathogenesis of non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD), which is a common feature in morbidly obese patients. Fifty-two obese patients suitable for a bariatric surgery intervention underwent a 25-day-long VLCKD. The biochemical markers of glucose and lipid metabolism, and flow-mediated dilation (FMD) of the brachial artery were measured before and after VLCKD. LAL activity was measured using the dried blood spot technique in 20 obese patients and in a control group of 20 healthy, normal-weight subjects. After VLCKD, we observed a significant reduction in body mass index, fasting glucose, insulinemia, and lipid profile parameters. No significant variation in FMD was observed. The number of patients with severe liver steatosis significantly decreased. LAL activity significantly increased, although the levels were not significantly different as compared to the control group. In conclusion, VLCKD induces the activity of LAL in morbidly obese subjects and reduces the secretion of all circulating lipoproteins. These effects could be attributed to the peculiar composition of the diet, which is particularly poor in carbohydrates and relatively rich in proteins.

Keywords: ketogenic diet; lipid metabolism; lysosomal acid lipase; morbid obesity; non-alcoholic fatty liver disease.