Ketogenic diet as a metabolic therapy for mood disorders: Evidence and developments

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Abstract

Despite significant advances in pharmacological and non-pharmacological treatments, mood disorders remain a significant source of mental capital loss, with high rates of treatment resistance, requiring a coordinated effort in investigation and development of efficient, tolerable and accessible novel interventions. Ketogenic diet (KD) is a low-carb diet that substantially changes the energetic matrix of the body including the brain. It has been established as an effective anticonvulsant treatment, and more recently, the role of KD for mental disorders has been explored. Ketogenic diet has profound effects in multiple targets implicated in the pathophysiology of mood disorders, including but not limited to, glutamate/GABA transmission, monoamine levels, mitochondrial function and biogenesis, neurotrophism, oxidative stress, insulin dysfunction and inflammation. Preclinical studies, case reports and case series have demonstrated antidepressant and mood stabilizing effects of KD, however, to date, no clinical trials for depression or bipolar disorder have been conducted. Because of its potential pleiotropic benefits, KD should be considered as a promising intervention in research in mood disorder therapeutics, especially in treatment resistant presentations.

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