Ketolysis is required for the proper development and function of the somatosensory nervous system

Jonathan Enders, Jarrid Jack, Sarah Thomas, Paige Lynch, Sarah Lasnier, Xin Cao, M. Taylor Swanson, Janelle M. Ryals, John P. Thyfault, Patrycja Puchalska, Peter A. Crawford, Douglas E. Wright

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


Ketogenic diets are emerging as protective interventions in preclinical and clinical models of somatosensory nervous system disorders. Additionally, dysregulation of succinyl-CoA 3-oxoacid CoA-transferase 1 (SCOT, encoded by Oxct1), the fate-committing enzyme in mitochondrial ketolysis, has recently been described in Friedreich's ataxia and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis. However, the contribution of ketone metabolism in the normal development and function of the somatosensory nervous system remains poorly characterized. We generated sensory neuron-specific, Advillin-Cre knockout of SCOT (Adv-KO-SCOT) mice and characterized the structure and function of their somatosensory system. We used histological techniques to assess sensory neuronal populations, myelination, and skin and spinal dorsal horn innervation. We also examined cutaneous and proprioceptive sensory behaviors with the von Frey test, radiant heat assay, rotarod, and grid-walk tests. Adv-KO-SCOT mice exhibited myelination deficits, altered morphology of putative Aδ soma from the dorsal root ganglion, reduced cutaneous innervation, and abnormal innervation of the spinal dorsal horn compared to wildtype mice. Synapsin 1-Cre-driven knockout of Oxct1 confirmed deficits in epidermal innervation following a loss of ketone oxidation. Loss of peripheral axonal ketolysis was further associated with proprioceptive deficits, yet Adv-KO-SCOT mice did not exhibit drastically altered cutaneous mechanical and thermal thresholds. Knockout of Oxct1 in peripheral sensory neurons resulted in histological abnormalities and severe proprioceptive deficits in mice. We conclude that ketone metabolism is essential for the development of the somatosensory nervous system. These findings also suggest that decreased ketone oxidation in the somatosensory nervous system may explain the neurological symptoms of Friedreich's ataxia.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number114428
JournalExperimental Neurology
StatePublished - Jul 2023

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2023


  • Friedreich's ataxia
  • Ketolysis
  • Ketone
  • Myelination
  • Neuropathy
  • Peripheral nervous system
  • Sensation


Dive into the research topics of 'Ketolysis is required for the proper development and function of the somatosensory nervous system'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this