Ketogenic dietary interventions in autosomal dominant polycystic kidney disease-a retrospective case series study: first insights into feasibility, safety and effects

Clin Kidney J. 2021 Sep 13;15(6):1079-1092. doi: 10.1093/ckj/sfab162. eCollection 2022 Jun.


Background: Our laboratory published the first evidence that nutritional ketosis, induced by a ketogenic diet (KD) or time-restricted diet (TRD), ameliorates disease progression in polycystic kidney disease (PKD) animal models. We reasoned that, due to their frequent use for numerous health benefits, some autosomal dominant PKD (ADPKD) patients may already have had experience with ketogenic dietary interventions (KDIs). This retrospective case series study is designed to collect the first real-life observations of ADPKD patients about safety, feasibility and possible benefits of KDIs in ADPKD as part of a translational project pipeline.

Methods: Patients with ADPKD who had already used KDIs were recruited to retrospectively collect observational and medical data about beneficial or adverse effects and the feasibility and safety of KDIs in questionnaire-based interviews.

Results: A total of 131 ADPKD patients took part in this study. About 74 executed a KD and 52 a TRD for 6 months on average. A total of 86% of participants reported that KDIs had improved their overall health, 67% described improvements in ADPKD-associated health issues, 90% observed significant weight loss, 64% of participants with hypertension reported improvements in blood pressure, 66% noticed adverse effects that are frequently observed with KDIs, 22 participants reported safety concerns like hyperlipidemia, 45 participants reported slight improvements in estimated glomerular filtration rate and 92% experienced KDIs as feasible while 53% reported breaks during their diet.

Conclusions: Our preliminary data indicate that KDIs may be safe, feasible and potentially beneficial for ADPKD patients, highlighting that prospective clinical trials are warranted to confirm these results in a controlled setting and elucidate the impact of KDIs specifically on kidney function and cyst progression.

Keywords: autosomal dominant polycystic kidney disease; caloric restriction; intermittent fasting; ketogenic diet.