Impact of dietary ketosis on volatile anesthesia toxicity in a model of Leigh syndrome

Simon Johnson*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review



Genetic mitochondrial diseases impact over 1 in 4000 individuals, most often presenting in infancy or early childhood. Seizures are major clinical sequelae in some mitochondrial diseases including Leigh syndrome, the most common pediatric presentation of mitochondrial disease. Dietary ketosis has been used to manage seizures in mitochondrial disease patients. Mitochondrial disease patients often require surgical interventions, leading to anesthetic exposures. Anesthetics have been shown to be toxic in the setting of mitochondrial disease, but the impact of a ketogenic diet on anesthetic toxicities in this setting has not been studied.


Our aim in this study was to determine whether dietary ketosis impacts volatile anesthetic toxicities in the setting of genetic mitochondrial disease.


The impact of dietary ketosis on toxicities of volatile anesthetic exposure in mitochondrial disease was studied by exposing young Ndufs4(−/−) mice fed ketogenic or control diet to isoflurane anesthesia. Blood metabolites were measured before and at the end of exposures, and survival and weight were monitored.


Compared to a regular diet, the ketogenic diet exacerbated hyperlactatemia resulting from isoflurane exposure (control vs. ketogenic diet in anesthesia mean difference 1.96 mM, Tukey's multiple comparison adjusted p = .0271) and was associated with a significant increase in mortality during and immediately after exposures (27% vs. 87.5% mortality in the control and ketogenic diet groups, respectively, during the exposure period, Fisher's exact test p = .0121). Our data indicate that dietary ketosis and volatile anesthesia interact negatively in the setting of mitochondrial disease.


Our findings suggest that extra caution should be taken in the anesthetic management of mitochondrial disease patients in dietary ketosis.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-10
Number of pages10
JournalPaediatric Anaesthesia
Early online date15 Feb 2024
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 15 Feb 2024

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