The ketogenic diet, originally developed for the treatment of epilepsy in non-responder children, is spreading to be used in the treatment of many diseases, including Alzheimer’s disease.
The main activity of the ketogenic diet has been related to improved mitochondrial function and decreased oxidative stress. B-Hydroxybutyrate, the most studied ketone body, has been shown to reduce the production of reactive oxygen species (ROS), improving mitochondrial respiration: it stimulates the cellular endogenous antioxidant system with the activation of nuclear factor erythroid-derived 2-related factor 2 (Nrf2), it modulates the ratio between the oxidized and reduced forms of nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide (NAD+/NADH) and it increases the efficiency of electron transport chain through the expression of uncoupling proteins.
Furthermore, the ketogenic diet performs anti-inflammatory activity by inhibiting nuclear factor kappa-light-chain-enhancer of activated B cells (NF-kB) activation and nucleotide-binding domain, leucine-rich-containing family, pyrin domain-containing-3 (NLRP3) inflammasome as well as inhibiting histone deacetylases (HDACs), improving memory encoding. The underlying mechanisms and the perspectives for the treatment of Alzheimer’s disease are discussed.