Stephen Cunnane, PhD: Brain Energy Rescue by Medium Chain Triglycerides


The professor from the Universite de Sherbrooke discusses how his recent study supports the concept of brain energy rescue.

“We were delighted to see an effect in MCI because it's an early stage of [Alzheimer Disease]. So logically, you would try to slow down the disease at the earliest stage possible. But it's also a double-edged sword because if the problem is quite minor, it's hard to show that you've actually corrected it.”

Brain energy rescue is emerging as a promising strategy to early combat neurodegenerative disorders before significant impairment occurs. It is achieved by providing the brain more ketones to metabolize when brain glucose metabolism decreases as an effect of these disorders.

Stephen C. Cunnane, PhD, Research Center on Aging, Universite de Sherbrooke, recently published a paper demonstrated the use of a ketogenic drink in brain energy rescue. The study demonstrated significant improvements in cognition in patients with mild cognitive impairment (MCI) with the use of a ketogenic medium chain triglyceride (kMCT) drink.2 Read more about this study by clicking here.

NeurologyLive spoke with Cunnane to learn more about the kMCT drink used in the study and its promising results. Cunnane discussed how MCTs are metabolized and the use of ketones for energy in the brain, as well as the difficulty in assessing improvement before cognition is significantly impaired.

1. Cunnane SC, Trushina E, Morland C. Brain energy rescue: an emerging therapeutic concept for neurodegenerative disorders of ageing. Nat. Rev. Drug Discov. September 2020; 19: 609-633
2.Fortier M, Castellano CA, St-Pierre V, et. al. A ketogenic drink improves cognition in mild cognitive impairment: Results of a 6-month RCT. Alzheimer’s Dement. Published online Oct 26, 2020. DOI: 10.1002/alz.12206
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