The ketogenic diet: From molecular mechanisms to clinical effects

John Freeman, Pierangelo Veggiotti, Giovanni Lanzi, Anna Tagliabue, Emilio Perucca

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

152 Scopus citations


Recent years have witnessed an increased interest from pediatric neurologists, neuropediatricians, epileptologists and general neurologists in the use of the ketogenic diet (KD) for the management of refractory epilepsies, particularly in children and adolescents. This article summarizes current knowledge on various issues related to its use, as discussed at a recent international workshop. Aspects discussed in some detail include (i) the putative mechanisms responsible for the diet's anticonvulsant effects based on results of biochemical and neurophysiological studies in experimental models; (ii) consensus and controversies on the modalities of initiation of the diet, and different protocols of implementation; (iii) indications and contraindications; (iv) efficacy data, also in relation to seizure type, syndromic form and patients age; (v) adverse effects; (vi) methodological aspects related to assessment of the diet's clinical effects, and perspectives for future research. Overall, the data reviewed indicate that considerable advances have been made in understanding the modes of action of the diet, its efficacy and tolerability profiles and its potential role in different types of epilepsy. Although clinical studies performed to date have important methodological limitations, including suboptimally characterized patients' populations and an uncontrolled design, a number of innovative, prospective randomized study protocols have been recently proposed and are being implemented. The results of these will hopefully provide much needed high-quality information to better define the role of the diet in the treatment algorithms in different epilepsy syndromes.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)145-180
Number of pages36
JournalEpilepsy Research
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 2006
Externally publishedYes


  • Efficacy
  • Epilepsy
  • Ketogenic diet
  • Mechanisms of action
  • Review
  • Safety

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neurology
  • Clinical Neurology


Dive into the research topics of 'The ketogenic diet: From molecular mechanisms to clinical effects'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this