Multiple sclerosis (MS) is the most common inflammatory disease of the central nervous system in young adults that may lead to progressive disability. Since pharmacological treatments may have substantial side effects, there is a need for complementary treatment options such as specific dietary approaches. Ketone bodies that are produced during fasting diets (FDs) and ketogenic diets (KDs) are an alternative and presumably more efficient energy source for the brain. Studies on mice with experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis showed beneficial effects of KDs and FDs on disease progression, disability, cognition and inflammatory markers. However, clinical evidence on these diets is scarce. In the clinical study protocol presented here, we investigate whether a KD and a FD are superior to a standard diet (SD) in terms of therapeutic effects and disease progression.
This study is a single-center, randomized, controlled, parallel-group study. One hundred and eleven patients with relapsing-remitting MS with current disease activity and stable immunomodulatory therapy or no disease-modifying therapy will be randomized to one of three 18-month dietary interventions: a KD with a restricted carbohydrate intake of 20-40 g/day; a FD with a 7-day fast every 6 months and 14-h daily intermittent fasting in between; and a fat-modified SD as recommended by the German Nutrition Society. The primary outcome measure is the number of new T2-weighted MRI lesions after 18 months. Secondary endpoints are safety, changes in relapse rate, disability progression, fatigue, depression, cognition, quality of life, changes of gut microbiome as well as markers of inflammation, oxidative stress and autophagy. Safety and feasibility will also be assessed.
Preclinical data suggest that a KD and a FD may modulate immunity, reduce disease severity and promote remyelination in the mouse model of MS. However, clinical evidence is lacking. This study is the first clinical study investigating the effects of a KD and a FD on disease progression of MS.