Induced Ketosis as a Treatment for Neuroprogressive Disorders: Food for Thought?

Int J Neuropsychopharmacol. 2020 Jun 24;23(6):366-384. doi: 10.1093/ijnp/pyaa008.


Induced ketosis (or ketone body ingestion) can ameliorate several changes associated with neuroprogressive disorders, including schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, and major depressive disorder. Thus, the effects of glucose hypometabolism can be bypassed through the entry of beta-hydroxybutyrate, providing an alternative source of energy to glucose. The weight of evidence suggests that induced ketosis reduces levels of oxidative stress, mitochondrial dysfunction, and inflammation-core features of the above disorders. There are also data to suggest that induced ketosis may be able to target other molecules and signaling pathways whose levels and/or activity are also known to be abnormal in at least some patients suffering from these illnesses such as peroxisome proliferator-activated receptors, increased activity of the Kelch-like ECH-associated protein/nuclear factor erythroid 2-related factor 2, Sirtuin-1 nuclear factor-κB p65, and nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide (NAD). This review explains the mechanisms by which induced ketosis might reduce mitochondrial dysfunction, inflammation, and oxidative stress in neuropsychiatric disorders and ameliorate abnormal levels of molecules and signaling pathways that also appear to contribute to the pathophysiology of these illnesses. This review also examines safety data relating to induced ketosis over the long term and discusses the design of future studies.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Brain / metabolism*
  • Brain / physiopathology
  • Diet*
  • Humans
  • Inflammation Mediators / metabolism
  • Ketone Bodies / administration & dosage*
  • Ketone Bodies / metabolism
  • Ketosis / metabolism*
  • Ketosis / physiopathology
  • Mental Disorders / diet therapy*
  • Mental Disorders / metabolism
  • Mental Disorders / physiopathology
  • Mental Disorders / psychology
  • Mitochondria / metabolism
  • Oxidative Stress
  • Signal Transduction


  • Inflammation Mediators
  • Ketone Bodies