, Volume 36, Issue 4, pp 373–378

Lipid and fatty acid profiles in rats consuming different high-fat ketogenic diets

  • Cynthia A. Dell
  • Sergei S. Likhodii
  • Kathy Musa
  • Mary Ann Ryan
  • W. MacIntyre Burnham
  • Stephen C. Cunnane


High-fat ketogenic diets are used to treat intractable seizures in children, but little is known of the mechanism by which these diets work or whether fats rich in n−3 polyunsaturates might be beneficial. Tissue lipid and fatty acid profiles were determined in rats consuming very high fat (80 weight%), low-carbohydrate ketogenic diets containing either medium-chain triglyceride, flaxseed oil, butter, or an equal combination of these three fat sources. Ketogenic diets containing butter markedly raised liver triglyceride but had no effect on plasma cholesterol. Unlike the other fats, flaxseed oil in the ketogenic diet did not raise brain cholesterol. Brain total and free fatty acid profiles remained similar in all groups, but there was an increase in the proportion of arachidonate in brain total lipids in the medium-chain triglyceride group, while the two groups consuming flaxseed oil had significantly lower arachidonate in brain, liver, and plasma. The very high dietary intake of α-linolenate in the flaxseed group did not change docosahexaenoate levels in the brain. Our previous report based on these diets showed that although ketosis is higher in rats consuming a ketogenic diet based on medium-chain triglyceride oil, seizure resistance in the pentylenetetrazol model is not clearly related to the degree of ketosis achieved. In combination with our present data from the same seizure study, it appears that ketogenic diets with widely differing effects on tissue lipids and fatty acid profiles can confer a similar amount of seizure protection.







analysis of variance






flaxseed oil


linoleic acid


medium-chain triglyceride




polyunsaturated fatty acid


thin-layer chromatography


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Copyright information

© AOCS Press 2001

Authors and Affiliations

  • Cynthia A. Dell
    • 1
  • Sergei S. Likhodii
    • 1
  • Kathy Musa
    • 1
  • Mary Ann Ryan
    • 1
  • W. MacIntyre Burnham
    • 2
  • Stephen C. Cunnane
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Nutritional SciencesUniversity of TorontoTorontoCanada
  2. 2.Department of Pharmacology, Faculty of MedicineUniversity of TorontoTorontoCanada

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