Higher levels of Bifidobacteria and tumor necrosis factor in children with drug-resistant epilepsy are associated with anti-seizure response to the ketogenic diet

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Journal Article

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Bifidobacterium; Bioinformatics; Epilepsy; Gut microbiota; Inflammation; Ketogenic diet; Machine learning; Omics; TNF


BACKGROUND: Recently, studies have suggested a role for the gut microbiota in epilepsy. Gut microbial changes during ketogenic diet (KD) treatment of drug-resistant epilepsy have been described. Inflammation is associated with certain types of epilepsy and specific inflammation markers decrease during KD. The gut microbiota plays an important role in the regulation of the immune system and inflammation. METHODS: 28 children with drug-resistant epilepsy treated with the ketogenic diet were followed in this observational study. Fecal and serum samples were collected at baseline and three months after dietary intervention. FINDINGS: We identified both gut microbial and inflammatory changes during treatment. KD had a general anti-inflammatory effect. Novel bioinformatics and machine learning approaches identified signatures of specific Bifidobacteria and TNF (tumor necrosis factor) associated with responders before starting KD. During KD, taxonomic and inflammatory profiles between responders and non-responders were more similar than at baseline. INTERPRETATION: Our results suggest that children with drug-resistant epilepsy are more likely to benefit from KD treatment when specific Bifidobacteria and TNF are elevated. We here present a novel signature of interaction of the gut microbiota and the immune system associated with anti-epileptic response to KD treatment. This signature could be used as a prognostic biomarker to identify potential responders to KD before starting treatment. Our findings may also contribute to the development of new anti-seizure therapies by targeting specific components of the gut microbiota. FUNDING: This study was supported by the Swedish Brain Foundation, Margarethahemmet Society, Stiftelsen Sunnerdahls Handikappfond, Linnea & Josef Carlssons Foundation, and The McCormick Genomic & Proteomic Center.


Biochemistry and Molecular Medicine