October 6, 2021

Altered Cytokine Levels in Cerebrospinal Fluid Following Ketogenic Diet of Children with Refractory Epilepsy

Abstract, originally published in Epilepsy Research

Ketogenic diet is an effective treatment which has the potential to achieve a significant seizure reduction in drug-resistant epilepsy. The mechanism behind this effect is unclear, but one hypothesis is that the mechanism is anti-inflammatory. In this prospective study on pediatric patients we compared levels of cytokines and chemokines in the cerebrospinal fluid before and after three months on treatment to evaluate a possible anti-inflammatory effect.

We analyzed 34 cytokines and chemokines in the cerebrospinal fluid of pediatric patients (n = 21) with refractory epilepsy by a multiplex assay. Beta-hydroxybutyric acid was measured in blood and cerebrospinal fluid. Seizure frequency in relation to diet treatment was assessed. For 9 different cytokines (CCL 7, CCL 21, CCL 22, CCL 25, CCL 27, IL-2, IL-10, CX3CL1 and MIF), a significant decrease ranging from 7 to 27% was seen after three months as compared to levels before the diet. In contrast, no cytokine displayed a significant increase during diet. A seizure reduction ? 50 % was seen in 15/21 patients (71 %) but no significant differences in cytokine decreases were found between responders and non-responders during treatment. A non-significant trend towards higher initial pre-treatment levels of cytokines was seen in responders, which were reduced following treatment. The levels of betahydroxybutyric acid were not related to seizure response.

We conclude that while it is not possible to state a primary anti-inflammatory effect by dietary treatment from these data, an unequivocal immunological effect is seen and may be a part of the mechanism of ketogenic dietary treatment.

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