G1D is commonly associated with electrographic spike-wave and - less-noticeably – with absence seizures. The G1D syndrome has long been attributed to energy (i.e., ATP-synthetic) failure, as have experimental, toxic-rodent epilepsies to impaired brain metabolism and tricarboxylic acid (TCA) cycle intermediate depletion. Indeed, a (seldom-acknowledged) function of glucose and other substrates is the generation of brain TCAs via carbon-donor reactions collectively named anaplerosis. However, TCAs are preserved in murine G1D. This renders inferences about energy failure premature and suggests a different hypothesis, also grounded on our findings, that consumption of alternate TCA precursors is stimulated, potentially detracting from other functions. Second, common ketogenic diets can ameliorate G1D seizures, but lead to a therapeutically-counterintuitive reduction in blood glucose available to the brain, and they can prove ineffective in 1/3 of cases. While developing G1D treatments, all of this motivated us to: a) uphold (rather than attenuate) the residual brain glucose flux that all G1D patients possess; and b) stimulate the TCA cycle, including anaplerosis. Therefore, we tested the medium-chain triglyceride triheptanoin, a widely-used medical food supplement that can fulfill both of these metabolic roles. The rationale is that ketone bodies derived from ketogenic diets are not anaplerotic, in contrast with triheptanoin metabolites, as we have shown in the G1D mouse brain.
We supplemented the regular diet of a case series of G1D patients with food-grade triheptanoin. First we confirmed that, despite their frequent electroencephalographic (EEG) presence as spike-waves, most seizures are rarely visible, such that perceptions by patients or others are inadequate for treatment evaluation. Thus, we used EEG, quantitative neuropsychological, blood analytical, and MRI cerebral metabolic rate measurements as main outcomes.
Academic and unsponsored.
Fourteen G1D children and adults not receiving a ketogenic diet.
Eleven patients tolerated triheptanoin without significant adverse effects. Spike-waves decreased robustly in all patients who manifested them. Additionally, neuropsychological performance and cerebral metabolic rate increased in most patients.
Triheptanoin can favorably influence cardinal aspects of neural function in G1D. Additionally, our outcome measures offer a framework for the evaluation of therapies for G1D and other encephalopathies associated with impaired intermediary metabolism.