Lindefeldt M, Eng A, Darban H, Bjerkner A, Zetterström CK, Allander T, Andersson B, Borenstein E, Dahlin M, Prast-Nielsen S
NPJ Biofilms Microbiomes 5 (-) 5 [2019-01-23; online 2019-01-23]
The gut microbiota has been linked to various neurological disorders via the gut-brain axis. Diet influences the composition of the gut microbiota. The ketogenic diet (KD) is a high-fat, adequate-protein, low-carbohydrate diet established for treatment of therapy-resistant epilepsy in children. Its efficacy in reducing seizures has been confirmed, but the mechanisms remain elusive. The diet has also shown positive effects in a wide range of other diseases, including Alzheimer's, depression, autism, cancer, and type 2 diabetes. We collected fecal samples from 12 children with therapy-resistant epilepsy before starting KD and after 3 months on the diet. Parents did not start KD and served as diet controls. Applying shotgun metagenomic DNA sequencing, both taxonomic and functional profiles were established. Here we report that alpha diversity is not changed significantly during the diet, but differences in both taxonomic and functional composition are detected. Relative abundance of bifidobacteria as well as E. rectale and Dialister is significantly diminished during the intervention. An increase in relative abundance of E. coli is observed on KD. Functional analysis revealed changes in 29 SEED subsystems including the reduction of seven pathways involved in carbohydrate metabolism. Decomposition of these shifts indicates that bifidobacteria and Escherichia are important contributors to the observed functional shifts. As relative abundance of health-promoting, fiber-consuming bacteria becomes less abundant during KD, we raise concern about the effects of the diet on the gut microbiota and overall health. Further studies need to investigate whether these changes are necessary for the therapeutic effect of KD.