How does the ketogenic diet work? Four potential mechanisms

Nika N. Danial, Adam L. Hartman, Carl E. Stafstrom, Liu Lin Thio

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

99 Scopus citations


The ketogenic diet and its newer variants are clinically useful in treating epilepsy. They can also have antiepileptogenic properties and can eventually have a role in treating other neurologic and nonneurologic conditions. Despite being nearly a century old, identifying the molecular underpinnings of the ketogenic diet has been challenging. However, recent studies provide experimental evidence for 4 distinct mechanisms that could contribute to the antiseizure and other beneficial effects of these diets. These mechanisms include carbohydrate reduction, activation of adenosine triphosphate (ATP)-sensitive potassium channels by mitochondrial metabolism, inhibition of the mammalian target of rapamycin pathway, and inhibition of glutamatergic excitatory synaptic transmission.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1027-1033
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Child Neurology
Issue number8
StatePublished - Aug 2013


  • ATP-sensitive K channel
  • Seizure
  • epilepsy
  • glucose
  • ketogenic diet
  • mammalian target of rapamycin
  • mechanism of action
  • vesicular glutamate transporters


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