There is growing evidence for the disease-modifying potential of metabolic therapies, including the ketogenic diet (KD), which is used to treat medically intractable epilepsy. However, it remains unclear whether the KD exerts direct effects on histopathological changes in epileptic brain, or whether the changes are a consequence of diet-induced reduction in seizure activity. Here, we used unbiased stereological techniques to quantify the seizure-induced reduction in cell number in the CA1 region of the hippocampus of epileptic Kcna1-null mice and compared the effects of the KD with that of phenobarbital (PB), a widely employed anti-seizure drug. Our data suggest that the anti-seizure activity of the KD or PB was similar. However, CA1 cell numbers of KD-treated hippocampi were not significantly different from those seen in wild-type (WT) mice, whereas CA1 cell counts in standard diet and PB-treated Kcna1-null mice were 23% and 31% lower than WT animals, respectively. These results support the notion that structural protection of cells may involve more than seizure attenuation, and that the KD engages mechanisms that also promote or restore hippocampal morphological integrity.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Clinical Neurology