Professor Dr. Roman-Ulrich Müller and his team at the University Hospital Cologne and the University of Cologne’s Aging Research Excellence Cluster CECAD undertook the Keto-ADPKD investigation. Professor Müller’s translational nephrology team at CECAD focuses on dietary therapies that improve longevity and illness prevention. One of these dietary regimes, the ketogenic diet, was studied as a therapy for polycystic kidney disease in the KETO-ADPKD research. The article ‘Feasibility and impact of ketogenic dietary therapy in polycystic kidney disease: KETO-ADPKD – a randomized controlled trial’ has now been published as a cover story in the prestigious magazine ‘Cell Reports Medicine’.
Müller presented the study’s topline findings at the American Society of Nephrology’s ‘Kidney Week’ in November 2022. The phase II-like study’s final results, which are now public, also demonstrate that switching to a ketogenic diet can improve kidney function in ADPKD patients. The study included 66 patients who were divided into three groups: one that followed a ketogenic diet for three months, another that did three days of water fasting once a month – a kind of zero diet that only allows drinking water – and a third that followed standard dietary recommendations.
One of the most notable findings was that 95% of patients in the ketogenic group and 85% in the water-fasting group thought the diet was doable. Many critics were first skeptical: it would be impossible to change one’s diet in ordinary life. However, the participants held a different opinion. Furthermore, the researchers were able to employ biomarkers – ketone bodies – assessed in blood samples to indicate that the subjects had followed the diet as instructed. Unlike many other food studies, the design of this one is similar to that of a typical pharmacological trial (randomized controlled), and so fulfills the highest criteria.
The ketogenic diet appears weird at first look since it eliminates carbs such as sugar or bread while consuming more fat. This diet has also been researched in terms of its overall life-prolonging effect. According to research group leader Müller,…