Low-carb diet alleviates inherited form of intellectual disability in mice
Date: December 19, 2016
Source: Johns Hopkins Medicine
Experimenting on mice with a genetic change similar to that found in people with a rare inherited disease called Kabuki syndrome, scientists report that a very low-carbohydrate diet can “open up” DNA and improve mental function.
Experimenting on mice with a genetic change similar to that found in people with a rare inherited disease called Kabuki syndrome, Johns Hopkins scientists report that a very low-carbohydrate diet can “open up” DNA and improve mental function.
A naturally occurring compound called beta-hydroxybutyrate (BHB) has already been reported to help open up chromatin. For the new study, the Johns Hopkins researchers tested whether two weeks of a low-carbohydrate ketogenic diet, which causes the body to naturally produce high levels of BHB, could alleviate symptoms in mice genetically engineered to have a Kabuki-like condition. The diet has long been known to have an impact on brain activity, particularly as a treatment for severe seizure disorders.
In their experiments, the researchers compared mice given the ketogenic diet to mice fed a normal diet and to those injected with BHB. Compared with their untreated counterparts, both groups of treated mice grew more new brain cells in an area called the granule cell layer of the dentate gyrus, which is associated with the ability to learn and form new memories. They also performed nearly as well as non-Kabuki mice on a test known as the Morris water maze, which assesses the rodents’ ability to remember the location of an underwater platform on which to rest during a maze exercise.