A very-low carbohydrate content in a high-fat diet modifies the plasma metabolome and impacts systemic inflammation and experimental atherosclerosis

Rita Castro, Karel Kalecký, Neil K. Huang, Kristina Petersen, Vishal Singh, A. Catharine Ross, Thomas Neuberger, Teodoro Bottiglieri

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Ketogenic diets (KDs) are very high-fat low-carbohydrate diets that promote nutritional ketosis and are widely used for weight loss, although concerns about potential adverse cardiovascular effects remain. We investigated a very high-fat KD's vascular impact and plasma metabolic signature compared to a non-ketogenic high-fat diet (HFD). Apolipoprotein E deficient (ApoE −/−) mice were fed a KD (%kcal:81:1:18, fat/carbohydrate/protein), a non-ketogenic high-fat diet with half of the fat content (HFD) (%kcal:40:42:18, fat/carbohydrate/protein) for 12 weeks. Plasma samples were used to quantify the major ketone body beta−hydroxybutyrate (BHB) and several pro-inflammatory cytokines (IL-6, MCP-1, MIP-1alpha, and TNF alpha), and to targeted metabolomic profiling by mass spectrometry. In addition, aortic atherosclerotic lesions were quantified ex-vivo by magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) on a 14-tesla system. KD was atherogenic when compared to the control diet, but KD mice, when compared to the HFD group (1) had markedly higher levels of BHB and lower levels of cytokines, confirming the presence of ketosis that alleviated the well-established fat-induced systemic inflammation; (2) displayed significant changes in the plasma metabolome that included a decrease in lipophilic metabolites and an increase in hydrophilic metabolites; (3) had significantly lower levels of several atherogenic lipid metabolites, including phosphatidylcholines, cholesterol esters, sphingomyelins, and ceramides; and (4) presented significantly lower aortic plaque burden. KD was atherogenic and was associated with specific metabolic changes but alleviated the fat-induced inflammation and lessened the progression of atherosclerosis when compared to the HFD.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number109562
JournalJournal of Nutritional Biochemistry
StatePublished - Apr 2024

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism
  • Biochemistry
  • Molecular Biology
  • Nutrition and Dietetics
  • Clinical Biochemistry

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