Epilepsy is a highly prevalent seizure disorder which tends to progress in severity and become refractory to treatment. Yet no therapy is proven to halt disease progression or to prevent the development of epilepsy. Because a high fat low carbohydrate ketogenic diet (KD) augments adenosine signaling in the brain and because adenosine not only suppresses seizures but also affects epileptogenesis, we hypothesized that a ketogenic diet might prevent epileptogenesis through similar mechanisms. Here, we tested this hypothesis in two independent rodent models of epileptogenesis. Using a pentylenetetrazole kindling paradigm in mice, we first show that a KD, but not a conventional antiepileptic drug (valproic acid), suppressed kindling-epileptogenesis. Importantly, after treatment reversal, increased seizure thresholds were maintained in those animals kindled in the presence of a KD, but not in those kindled in the presence of valproic acid. Next, we tested whether a KD can halt disease progression in a clinically relevant model of progressive epilepsy. Epileptic rats that developed spontaneous recurrent seizures after a pilocarpine-induced status epilepticus were treated with a KD or control diet (CD). Whereas seizures progressed in severity and frequency in the CD-fed animals, KD-fed animals showed a prolonged reduction of seizures, which persisted after diet reversal. KD-treatment was associated with increased adenosine and decreased DNA methylation, the latter being maintained after diet discontinuation. Our findings demonstrate that a KD prevented disease progression in two mechanistically different models of epilepsy, and suggest an epigenetic mechanism underlying the therapeutic effects.
- Acquired epilepsy
- DNA methylation
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience