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Electrophysiological Observations in Hippocampal Slices from Rats Treated with the Ketogenic Diet

Stafstrom C.E.a,b · Wang C.a · Jensen F.E.a
aDepartment of Neurology, Children’s Hospital, Harvard Medical School, and bDivision of Pediatric Neurology, New England Medical Center, Tufts University School of Medicine, Boston, Mass., USA Dev Neurosci 1999;21:393–399 (DOI:10.1159/000017389)


The electrophysiological effects of the high-fat, low-carbohydrate ketogenic diet (KD) were assessed in normal and epileptic [kainic-acid(KA)-treated] adult rats using hippocampal slices. In the first set of experiments, normal rats were fed the KD or a standard control diet for 6–8 weeks (beginning on postnatal day 56, P56), after which they were sacrificed for hippocampal slices. All rats on the KD became ketotic. The baseline effects of the KD were determined by comparing extracellular measures of synaptic transmission and responses to evoked stimulation, and hippocampal excitability was tested in Mg2+-free medium. There were no differences in EPSP slope, input/output relationship, responses to evoked stimulation or Mg2+-free burst frequency between slices from control and KD-fed rats. In another set of experiments, rats were made epileptic by intraperitoneal injection of kainic acid (KA) on P54, which caused status epilepticus followed by the development of spontaneous recurrent seizures (SRS) over the next few weeks. Two days after KA-induced status, rats were divided into a control-fed group and a KD-fed group. Animals on the KD had significantly fewer SRS over the ensuing 8 weeks. In hippocampal slices from KA-treated, KD-fed rats, there were fewer evoked CA1 population spikes than from slices of control-fed rats. These results suggest that the KD does not alter baseline electrophysiological parameters in normal rats. In rats made chronically epileptic by administration of KA, KD treatment was associated with fewer spontaneous seizures and reduced CA1 excitability in vitro. Therefore, at least part of the KD mechanism of action may involve long-term changes in network excitability.

Copyright © 1999 S. Karger AG, Basel


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