Ketogenic diet ameliorates autism spectrum disorders-like behaviors via reduced inflammatory factors and microbiota remodeling in BTBR T+ Itpr3tf/J mice

Exp Neurol. 2023 Aug:366:114432. doi: 10.1016/j.expneurol.2023.114432. Epub 2023 May 5.


Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) is increasing, but its complete etiology is still lacking. Recently, application of ketogenic diet (KD) has shown to reduce abnormal behaviors while improving psychological/sociological status in neurodegenerative diseases. However, KD role on ASD and underlying mechanism remains unknown. In this work, KD administered to BTBR T+ Itpr3tf/J (BTBR) and C57BL/6J (C57) mice reduced social deficits (p = 0.002), repetitive behaviors (p < 0.001) and memory impairments (p = 0.001) in BTBR. Behavioral effects were related to reduced expression levels of tumor necrosis factor alpha, interleukin-1β, and interleukin-6 in the plasma (p = 0.007; p < 0.001 and p = 0.023, respectively), prefrontal cortex (p = 0.006; p = 0.04 and p = 0.03) and hippocampus (p = 0.02; p = 0.09 and p = 0.03). Moreover, KD accounted for reduced oxidative stress by changing lipid peroxidation levels and superoxide dismutase activity in BTBR brain areas. Interestingly, KD increased relative abundances of putatively beneficial microbiota (Akkermansia and Blautia) in BTBR and C57 mice while reversing the increase of Lactobacillus in BTBR feces. Overall, our findings suggest that KD has a multifunctional role since it improved inflammatory plus oxidative stress levels together with remodeling gut-brain axis. Hence, KD may turn out be a valuable therapeutic approach for ameliorating ASD-like conditions even though more evidence is required to evaluate its effectiveness especially on a long term.

Keywords: Inflammatory factors; Microbial community diversity; Oxidative stress; Three-chamber sociability; Tumor necrosis factor alpha.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Autism Spectrum Disorder* / metabolism
  • Brain / metabolism
  • Diet, Ketogenic*
  • Disease Models, Animal
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred C57BL
  • Mice, Inbred Strains
  • Microbiota*