Posted on May 31, 2018, 7 p.m.
Specific gut bacteria that play important roles in anti-seizure effects of a ketogenic diet have been identified by scientists at UCLA, in the first study to establish causal links between seizure susceptibility and gut microbiota, as published in the journal Cell.
Ketogenic diets boasts numerous health benefits including fewer seizures in patients with epilepsy who don’t respond to anti-epileptic medications, until now there was no clear explanations as to why exactly the diet aids epilepsy patients.
It was hypothesized ketogenic diets alter gut microbiota that is important to the diet’s anti-seizure effects. Comprehensive investigation was conducted to investigate whether gut microbiota influences ability of the diet to protect against seizures, and just how microbiota is able to achieve these anti-seizure effects.
In a study to gain better understandings of epilepsy researchers found that diets substantially altered gut microbiota in model mice in less than four days, as a result significantly fewer seizures were observed. Protective effects of ketogenic diets were analyzed in two types of model mice: those treated with antibiotics to deplete gut microbes; and those reared as germ free in sterile environments. Both types of mice were found to have lost effective protection from seizures by the ketogenic diet, suggesting gut microbiota is needed for the diet to offer protective abilities.
Precise order of organic nucleotide molecules were identified from gut microbiota DNA to determine which bacteria were present and levels after the diet was administered. Two types of bacteria were identified to be elevated that play important roles in providing the protective ability: Parabacteroides and Akkermansia species.
Germ free model mice that were given these bacteria were studies using this new knowledge, and it was found that seizure protection abilities could be restored when these two bacterias were administered together, given alone they did not protect against seizures; suggesting that they perform a uniques function when they are together.
Levels of hundreds of biochemicals were measured in the blood, hippocampus, and gut and it was found that the bacteria which were elevated by the ketogenic diet alter levels of biochemicals with the blood and gut in ways that affect neurotransmitters in the hippocampus: levels of GABA were increased in the brain by the bacteria, relative to levels of glutamate which is a neurotransmitter that activates neurons to fire. Implications of this study for health and disease are very promising, but it was noted that more research needs to be conducted to test whether the findings can be replicated in humans.
Materials provided by University of California - Los Angeles.
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Christine A. Olson, Helen E. Vuong, Jessica M. Yano, Qingxing Y. Liang, David J. Nusbaum, Elaine Y. Hsiao. The Gut Microbiota Mediates the Anti-Seizure Effects of the Ketogenic Diet. Cell, 2018; DOI: 10.1016/j.cell.2018.04.027