Polycystic Kidney Disease?


  • Following a ketogenic diet has been shown to prevent and reverse Polycystic Kidney Disease (PKD) in animal models.
  • Supplementation with exogenous ketones (b-hydroxybutyrate) without dietary changes has been shown to inhibit the progression of PKD.
  • This study provided evidence that cystic cells are metabolically inflexible and cannot utilize ketones for energy.


Ketogenic Diet and Polycystic Kidney Disease

A new paper was published in the journal Cell Metabolism on December 3, 2019, detailing the effects of ketosis on polycystic kidney disease (PKD). In the paper titled Ketosis Ameliorates Renal Cyst Growth in Polycystic Kidney Disease, researchers looked at the changes in renal cyst growth in rats after following a ketogenic diet or consuming exogenous ketones (B-hydroxybutyrate).

The researchers decided to explore the potential application of a ketogenic diet for PKD after previous research had shown reduced caloric intake slowed the progression of cyst growth in animal models. Furthermore, intermittent fasting (time-restricted eating) without changes in total calorie intake has been shown to inhibit proliferation and fibrosis of kidneys affected by the disease.

Polycystic Kidney Disease

The researchers found that implementing a ketogenic diet in rats led to the rapid regression of renal cysts, in both quantity and size. Oral administration of BHB (exogenous ketone supplementation) also led to similar results. This data indicates that the cystic cells are metabolically inflexible, meaning they can’t use ketones for fuel and most likely rely on glucose. Limitations on their fuel source led to the prevention of growth and regression of cysts.

As described in the image below, the hypothesis is that cysts are fueled by glucose when an individual follows a traditional high-carb diet. When fasting, the ketogenic diet or exogenous ketone supplementation protocols are implemented, the primary fuel source shifts to ketones/fatty acids and leads to the inhibition of cyst growth. [1]



Torres, et al. Ketosis Ameliorates Renal Cyst Growth in Polycystic Kidney Disease. Cell Metabolism. 2019; 5: 1007-1023.


  1. Adam Cronan says:

    Hey thank you for this article. Do you have any more information on the subject? I was diagnosed with Polycystic Kidney disease and my mother who had it recently had to get a transplant. I am going to switch to keto lifestyle to combat my PKD and hopefully even reverse it

    1. Hi, Adam! Thank you for reaching out. What kind of information are you specifically looking for so I can help point you in the right direction? Currently, the research on PKD is keto is limited so we can not provide any additional information about research but, I can help provide more information about the ketogenic diet as a whole or keto for other conditions. Thanks!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *