Researchers from the University of Geneva (UNIGE) and the EPFL investigated whether they could treat epilepsy and neuronal hyperactivity by lowering the energy provided to and required for the proper functioning of neurons.
Around 50 million people worldwide suffer from epilepsy, a chronic noncommunicable brain condition.
Epilepsy is characterised by recurring seizures that are brought on by the brain’s hyperactive neurons. Consciousness loss and the control of bowel or bladder function may also occur in conjunction with the seizures.
The scientists found that the seizures in mice were worse. They discovered that when the energy level was decreased, neurons’ calcium levels rose, making them more excitable.
These dysfunctions might be rectified when mice were fed with a ketogenic diet, which is high in fats and has been utilised since antiquity, according to a series of trials and analyses the researchers conducted.
“We discovered that MPC-deficient mice fed a ketogenic diet or given ketone bodies experienced much fewer severe seizures. The mitochondrial and neuronal functions are recovered with this diet, and the calcium level is normal “Molecular and Cellular Biology Department researcher and co-first author of the study, Marine Laporte said.
A ketogenic diet, which is high in fat and low in carbohydrates, has been used by epilepsy patients since ancient times to prevent seizures. The liver breaks down lipids to make ketone bodies, which are produced on a ketogenic diet or fasting. They are imported into the brain, where they serve as a vital source of energy, particularly when fasting. They are employed to supply energy and can enter mitochondria without the aid of carriers.
The research findings were released in the eLife journal.