Ketogenic diet reduces hypoglycemia-induced neuronal death in young rats

Kelvin A. Yamada, Nicholas Rensing, Lin Thio Liu

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Hypoglycemia is an important complication of insulin treatment in diabetic children and may contribute to lasting cognitive impairment. Previous studies demonstrated that 21-day-old rats (P21) subjected to brief, repetitive episodes of hypoglycemia sustain cortical neuronal death. The developing brain is capable of utilizing alternative energy substrates acetoacetate and β-hydroxybutyrate. In these studies we tested the hypothesis that the developing brain adapted to ketone utilization and provided with ketones during hypoglycemia by eating a ketogenic diet would sustain less brain injury compared to littermates fed a standard diet. Supporting this hypothesis, P21 rats weaned to a ketogenic diet and subjected to insulin-induced hypoglycemia at P25 had significantly less neuronal death than rats on a standard diet. This animal model may provide insight into the determinants influencing the brain's susceptibility to hypoglycemic injury.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)210-214
Number of pages5
JournalNeuroscience Letters
Issue number3
StatePublished - Sep 16 2005


  • Brain injury
  • Diabetes
  • Insulin
  • Ketone
  • β-Hydroxybutyrate


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