Date of Award

Spring 2016

Degree Name

Bachelor of Science



First Advisor

Susan Masino

Second Advisor

Hebe Guardiola-Diaz

Third Advisor

Sarah Raskin


BACKGROUND: Pain is the most common ailment around the world, according to the American Academy of Pain Medicine; 100 million Americans suffer with chronic pain, which is more than any other main disorder and is described by more than 60% as impacted their overall enjoyment of life (AAPA). The ketogenic diet (KD) is a high fat, low carbohydrate dietary regimen, which is described to decrease neuronal excitation, increase ketone bodies and ATP levels, while lowering glucose and proinflammatory cytokines. The KD is an effective therapy for epilepsy; a disorder that arises from either lowered inhibition or increased excitation, similar to pain. The goal of the current study is to establish whether the KD is effective in lowering inflammatory pain in a rat.

METHODS: We investigated whether a strict KD decreases inflammatory pain in adult male rats. Rats were maintained on either the KD or a standard diet for two to four weeks. We obtained both physiological measure and behavioral measures before and after being injected in the right hind paw with heat-killed tuberculosis bacteria (CFA) to cause inflammation. Physiological measures included weight, paw volume, paw weight, blood ketone and blood glucose levels. Tactile sensitivity and spontaneous pain was used to assess behavioral pain.

RESULTS: Ketones were increased in rats after the KD. Our results indicate that the KD may alleviate pain, as there were significant changes indicating lowered swelling from the right paw weight. Paw volume indicated a trend leading us to believe that there may be significance if there were more rats. This was similarly seen in the tactile sensitivity, where there was a trend of KD having lowered pain at 4 hours post-injection compared to CD. Spontaneous pain and myeloperoxidase had no significant changes between the KD and CD groups.

CONCLUSION: The data suggest that KD may alleviate pain as there is a lower inflammatory swelling and a trend towards decreased pain sensitivity. Future research will aim to elucidate whether there is an effect of the KD on inflammatory pain by using lower amounts of CFA and earlier spontaneous pain testing.


Senior thesis completed at Trinity College, Hartford Connecticut for the degree of Bachelor of Science in Neuroscience.