The Effects of a Ketogenic Diet on Sensorimotor Function in a Thoracolumbar Mouse Spinal Cord Injury Model

eNeuro. 2020 Aug 13;7(4):ENEURO.0178-20.2020. doi: 10.1523/ENEURO.0178-20.2020. Print 2020 Jul/Aug.


Spinal cord injury and peripheral nerve injuries are traumatic events that greatly impact quality of life. One factor that is being explored throughout patient care is the idea of diet and the role it has on patient outcomes. But the effects of diet following neurotrauma need to be carefully explored in animal models to ensure that they have beneficial effects. The ketogenic diet provides sufficient daily caloric requirements while being potentially neuroprotective and analgesic. In this study, animals were fed a high-fat, low-carbohydrate diet that led to a high concentration of blood ketone that was sustained for as long as the animals were on the diet. Mice fed a ketogenic diet had significantly lower levels of tyrosine and tryptophan, but the levels of other monoamines within the spinal cord remained similar to those of control mice. Mice were fed a standard or ketogenic diet for 7 d before and 28 d following the injury. Our results show that mice hemisected over the T10-T11 vertebrae showed no beneficial effects of being on a ketogenic diet over a 28 d recovery period. Similarly, ligation of the common peroneal and tibial nerve showed no differences between mice fed normal or ketogenic diets. Tests included von Frey, open field, and ladder-rung crossing. We add to existing literature showing protective effects of the ketogenic diet in forelimb injuries by focusing on neurotrauma in the hindlimbs. The results suggest that ketogenic diets need to be assessed based on the type and location of neurotrauma.

Keywords: function; ketogenic diet; plasticity; spinal cord injury; therapies.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Diet, Ketogenic*
  • Disease Models, Animal
  • Mice
  • Quality of Life
  • Spinal Cord Injuries*