Stephen Cunnane, PhD: Evaluating Ketogenics in Brain Energy Rescue


The professor from the Universite de Sherbrooke discusses the use of ketogenic diets and supplements to increase cognition.

“Don't count on this as a as a 1-stop solution because you need to keep your approaches open and the body needs exercise anyway. So just try to combine these approaches instead of counting on 1 solution.”

Brain energy rescue is emerging as a promising strategy to combat neurodegenerative disorders early on, before significant impairment occurs. It is achieved by providing the brain more ketones to metabolize when brain glucose metabolism decreases, often an effect of these disorders.1

Stephen C. Cunnane, PhD, Research Center on Aging, Universite de Sherbrooke, recently published a paper with colleagues that demonstrated the use of a ketogenic drink to achieve 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 His team also found that C8 triglycerides are more ketogenic than other lengths of triglycerides.

NeurologyLive spoke with Cunnane to learn more about the kinds of ketogenic triglycerides that exist and their role in improving cognition. Cunnane discussed the emerging field of ketogenic supplements and the care that has to be taken when selecting supplements to prescribe to patients. He encourages physicians, patients, and dietitians to research and find products that are suitable for patients.

1. Cunnane SC, Trushina E, Morland C, et al. Brain energy rescue: an emerging therapeutic concept for neurodegenerative disorders of ageing. Nat Rev Drug Discov. 2020;19:609-633. doi: 10.1038/s41573-020-0072-x
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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