Restricted ketogenic diet enhances the therapeutic action of N-butyldeoxynojirimycin towards brain GM2 accumulation in adult Sandhoff disease mice


Address correspondence and reprint requests to Thomas N. Seyfried, PhD, Boston College, Biology Department, Chestnut Hill, MA 02467, USA. E-mail:


J. Neurochem. (2010) 113, 1525–1535.


Sandhoff disease is an autosomal recessive, neurodegenerative disease involving the storage of brain ganglioside GM2 and asialo-GM2. Previous studies showed that caloric restriction, which augments longevity, and N-butyldeoxynojirimycin (NB-DNJ, Miglustat), an imino sugar that hinders the glucosyltransferase catalyzing the first step in glycosphingolipid biosynthesis, both increase longevity and improve motor behavior in the β-hexosaminidase (Hexb) knockout (−/−) murine model of Sandhoff disease. In this study, we used a restricted ketogenic diet (KD-R) and NB-DNJ to combat ganglioside accumulation. Adult Hexb−/− mice were placed into one of the following groups: (i) a standard diet (SD), (ii) a SD with NB-DNJ (SD + NB-DNJ), (iii) a KD-R, and (iv) a KD-R with NB-DNJ (KD-R + NB-DNJ). Forebrain GM2 content (μg sialic acid/100 mg dry wt) in the four groups was 375 ± 15, 312 ± 8, 340 ± 28, and 279 ± 26, respectively, indicating an additive interaction between NB-DNJ and the KD-R. Most interestingly, brain NB-DNJ content was 3.5-fold greater in the KD-R + NB-DNJ mice than in the SD + NB-DNJ mice. These data suggest that the KD-R and NB-DNJ may be a potential combinatorial therapy for Sandhoff disease by enhancing NB-DNJ delivery to the brain and may allow lower dosing to achieve the same degree of efficacy as high dose monotherapy.