Inflammation is an immune physiological process that usually helps to control infections as well as in the subsequent repair of the affected tissue. Inflammasomes are multiproteic complexes expressed by the innate immune system cells whose activation induces the release of proinflammatory substances as interleukin-1.
These multiproteic complexes are clinically-important because some autoimmune diseases express an increase in the activity of the inflammasomes. Therefore, the downregulation of inflammasomes could be of help in the treatment of such diseases.
It has been recently published in Nature Medicine that a subtype of inflammasome named NL3P is inhibited by a ketone: hydroxybutyrate. But, when is this ketone produced in physiological conditions? In a healthy adult these ketones are produced in some states of energy deficit such as intense aerobic exercise, fasting, with caloric restriction diets and with low carb diets (for example, the popular: Atkins diet®). In an interesting series of experiments (in vitro and in vivo), the research team in the USA showed that fasting and low carb diets produce a reduction of inflammation in various animal models of autoimmune diseases.
Maybe the title of this article was a little ambitious, but in fact the ketogenic diets will probably be part of the treatment for autoimmune diseases in the near future. Besides, it has also been recently shown that these are the best diets for losing weight (JAMA, 2015).
Alfredo Manzano MD.
Youm YH, Nguyen KY, et al. The ketone metabolite β-hydroxybutyrate blocks NLP3 inflammasome-mediated inflammatory disease. Nat Med. 2015; 21(3):263-9.
Johnston BC, Kanters S. Comparison of weight loss among named diet programs in overweight and obese adults: a meta-analysis. JAMA. 2014;312(9): 923-33.