- 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.
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. 
Chelsea Malone works as a researcher in the field of health and performance supplementation. She contributes science-based articles and information to Ketogenic.com. She received her Bachelor of Science in Biomedical Sciences from the University of Central Florida and her Master of Science in Medical Sciences from the University of South Florida. Her specialties are in biochemistry, immunology, and pathophysiology. In her free time, she enjoys cooking, traveling, hiking, and reading.