Autoimmune Thyroid Disease

An Unfortunate and Lengthy Adventure in Misdiagnosis

GABA transaminase

leave a comment »

Remember our friend valproic acid, the anti-seizure medication that is very similar in structure to acetone and acetic acid, the ketones that are raised on the ketogenic diet?

Modern medicine has been puzzled for a long time about how valproic acid works, but it turns out it works by blocking GABA transaminase, the enzyme that converts GABA into other substances. Vigabatrin is another anti-seizure drug that blocks GABA transaminase. It is a GABA analog that doesn’t bind to GABA receptors, only to GABA transaminase, thereby lowering free GABA transaminase activity.

An alternative name for valproic acid is 2-propylpentanoic acid or dipropylacetic acid. Also, aminooxyacetic acid and ethanolamine-O-sulfate are both reversible GABA transaminase inhibitors. Aminooxyacetic acid is just acetic acid with a nitrogen atom attached. I’m certain sooner or later that it will be discovered that acetic acid and acetone are GABA transaminase inhibitors.

This isn’t the only way the ketogenic diet works though. The brain works hard to keep blood sugar levels in the brain high, but the body’s levels of blood sugar are lowered. This, with the aide of an amino acid called alanine, helps to dispose of excess glutamic acid that has built up, the excitory neurotransmitter that stands in opposition to GABA.

The ketogenic diet influences the levels of excitatory and inhibitory amino acids in the CSF in children with refractory epilepsy.

Dahlin M, Elfving A, Ungerstedt U, Amark P.

Department of Pediatrics, Astrid Lindgren Children’s Hospital, Karolinska Hospital, SE-171 76 Stockholm, Sweden.

The ketogenic diet (KD) is an established treatment for medically refractory pediatric epilepsy. Its anticonvulsant mechanism is still unclear. We examined the influence of the KD on the CSF levels of excitatory and inhibitory amino acids in 26 children (mean age 6.1 years) with refractory epilepsy. Seventeen amino acids were determined before and at a mean of 4 months after the start of the KD. Seizures were quantified. Highly significant changes were found in eight amino acids: increases in GABA, taurine, serine, and glycine and decreases in asparagine, alanine, tyrosine and phenylalanine. However, aspartate, glutamate, arginine, threonine, citrulline, leucine, isoleucine and valine/methionine remained unchanged. A significant correlation with seizure response was found for threonine (P=0.016). The GABA levels were higher in responders (>50% seizure reduction) than in nonresponders during the diet (P=0.041). In the very good responders (>90% seizure reduction), the GABA levels were significantly higher at baseline as well as during the diet. Age differences were found with significantly larger decreases in glutamate and increases in GABA in connection with the diet in younger children. Our results indicate that the KD significantly alters the levels of several CSF amino acids that may be involved in its mechanism of action and the increase in GABA is of particular interest. PubMed

This is what happens to one’s neurotransmitters on the ketogenic diet:


  • GABA
  • taurine
  • serine
  • glycine


  • asparagine
  • alanine
  • tyrosine
  • phenylalanine


  • aspartate
  • glutamate
  • arginine
  • threonine
  • citrulline
  • leucine
  • isoleucine
  • valine/methionine

The great thing is that it really works. I had forgotten just how good it feels to be in ketosis (I even have ketostix that are showing moderate ketones, so I’m actually wasting some calories). You just feel calm, calm, calm. The problem is sticking to it. One small deviation (like a pear, for example), can bring on a seizure in someone with severe epilepsy.


Written by alienrobotgirl

9 May, 2006 at 12:19 pm

Posted in Neurotransmitters

Tagged with

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: