Metabolic fingerprinting of dogs with idiopathic epilepsy receiving a ketogenic medium-chain triglyceride (MCT) oil
Consumption of medium-chain triglycerides (MCT) has been shown to improve seizure control, reduce behavioural comorbidities and improve cognitive function in epileptic dogs. However, the exact metabolic pathways affected by dietary MCT remain poorly understood. In this study, we aimed to identify changes in the metabolome and neurotransmitters levels relevant to epilepsy and behavioural comorbidities associated with the consuming of an MCT supplement (MCT-DS) in dogs with idiopathic epilepsy (IE). Metabolic alterations induced by a commercial MCT-DS in a population of 28 dogs with IE were evaluated in a 6-month multi-centre, prospective, randomised, double-blinded, controlled cross-over trial design. A metabolic energy requirement-based amount of 9% MCT or control oil was supplemented to the dogs' stable base diet for 3 months, followed by the alternative oil for another 3 months. A validated, quantitative nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) spectroscopy platform was applied to pre- and postprandially collected serum samples to compare the metabolic profile between both DS and baseline. Furthermore, alterations in urinary neurotransmitter levels were explored. Five dogs (30%) had an overall reduction in seizure frequency of ≥50%, and were classified as MCT-responders, while 23 dogs showed a ≤50% reduction, and were defined as MCT non-responders. Amino-acid metabolism was significantly influenced by MCT consumption compared to the control oil. While the serum concentrations of total fatty acids appeared similar during both supplements, the relative concentrations of individual fatty acids differed. During MCT supplementation, the concentrations of polyunsaturated fatty acids and arachidonic acid were significantly higher than under the control oil. β-Hydroxybutyric acid levels were significantly higher under MCT supplementation. In total, four out of nine neurotransmitters were significantly altered: a significantly increased γ-aminobutyric acid (GABA) concentration was detected during the MCT-phase accompanied by a significant shift of the GABA-glutamate balance. MCT-Responders had significantly lowered urinary concentrations of histamine, glutamate, and serotonin under MCT consumption. In conclusion, these novel data highlight metabolic changes in lipid, amino-acid and ketone metabolism due to MCT supplementation. Understanding the metabolic response to MCT provides new avenues to develop better nutritional management with improved anti-seizure and neuroprotective effects for dogs with epilepsy, and other behavioural disorders.