Declines in mitochondrial mass are thought to be a hallmark of mammalian aging, and a ketogenic diet (KD) may prevent the age-related decreases in mitochondrial content. The objective of this study was to investigate the impact of a KD on markers of mitochondrial mass. Mice were fed an isocaloric control diet (CD) or KD from 12 months of age. Tissues were collected after 1 month and 14 months of intervention, and a panel of commonly used markers of mitochondrial mass (mitochondrial enzyme activities and levels, mitochondrial to nuclear DNA ratio, and cardiolipin content) were measured. Our results showed that a KD stimulated activities of marker mitochondrial enzymes including citrate synthase, Complex I, and Complex IV in hindlimb muscle in aged mice. KD also increased the activity of citrate synthase and prevented an age-related decrease in Complex IV activity in aged brain. No other markers were increased in these tissues. Furthermore, the impacts of a KD on liver and kidney were mixed with no pattern indicative of a change in mitochondrial mass. In conclusion, results of the present study suggest that a KD induces tissue-specific changes in mitochondrial enzyme activities, or structure, rather than global changes in mitochondrial mass across tissues.
Keywords: brain; diet; kidney; liver; skeletal muscle.