Ketogenic diet and neurodegenerative diseases: A focus on alzheimer's disease, parkinson's disease and amyotrofic lateral sclerosis

Bolliri Carlotta, Caronni Serena, Ferri Valentina, Cereda Emanuele

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Some studies reported that keton bodies could be a more efficient energy source than glucose, even for the brain. After being tested for the from which the ketogenic diet gets first time in 1921 for the treatment of refractory childhood epilepsy the ketogenic diet (KD) has become an interesting and promising alternative approach not only to many neurologic and neuromuscular diseases, but also to all type of diseases called “diseases of progress”. The interest has been also increased by the multiple failures collected in drug development studies. This short review aimed to summarize the available evidence on the use of KD in the three most common neurodegenerative diseases: Alzheimer's disease (AD), Parkinson's disease (PD) and Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS).Pre-clinical studies are more abundant than clinical ones, although preliminary trails in humans have shown promising results with positive effects on cognitive functions in both AD and PD and motor symptoms in PD. Evidence in ALS is only pre-clinical but a phase-III study is currently ongoing. The major limitations of clinical studies are the low number of patients treated and the short duration of the intervention. Although a valuable theoretical basis for the use of KDs in neurodegenerative diseases does exist, further studies are warranted before KD can be conveniently and extensively translated into daily clinical practice. Nonetheless, long-term feasibility and safety concerns on its use in the old patient should be better addressed.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)17-23
Number of pages7
Issue numberSpecialIssue
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2020
Externally publishedYes


  • Alzheimer's disease
  • Amyotrofic lateral sclerosis
  • Cognitive state
  • Ketogenic diet
  • Neurodegeneration
  • Neurodegenerative disease
  • Parkinson's disease

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pharmacology
  • Drug Discovery


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