Ketones and the Heart: Metabolic Principles and Therapeutic Implications

Timothy R. Matsuura, Patrycja Puchalska, Peter A. Crawford, Daniel P. Kelly

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations


The ketone bodies beta-hydroxybutyrate and acetoacetate are hepatically produced metabolites catabolized in extrahepatic organs. Ketone bodies are a critical cardiac fuel and have diverse roles in the regulation of cellular processes such as metabolism, inflammation, and cellular crosstalk in multiple organs that mediate disease. This review focuses on the role of cardiac ketone metabolism in health and disease with an emphasis on the therapeutic potential of ketosis as a treatment for heart failure (HF). Cardiac metabolic reprogramming, characterized by diminished mitochondrial oxidative metabolism, contributes to cardiac dysfunction and pathologic remodeling during the development of HF. Growing evidence supports an adaptive role for ketone metabolism in HF to promote normal cardiac function and attenuate disease progression. Enhanced cardiac ketone utilization during HF is mediated by increased availability due to systemic ketosis and a cardiac autonomous upregulation of ketolytic enzymes. Therapeutic strategies designed to restore high-capacity fuel metabolism in the heart show promise to address fuel metabolic deficits that underpin the progression of HF. However, the mechanisms involved in the beneficial effects of ketone bodies in HF have yet to be defined and represent important future lines of inquiry. In addition to use as an energy substrate for cardiac mitochondrial oxidation, ketone bodies modulate myocardial utilization of glucose and fatty acids, two vital energy substrates that regulate cardiac function and hypertrophy. The salutary effects of ketone bodies during HF may also include extra-cardiac roles in modulating immune responses, reducing fibrosis, and promoting angiogenesis and vasodilation. Additional pleotropic signaling properties of beta-hydroxybutyrate and AcAc are discussed including epigenetic regulation and protection against oxidative stress. Evidence for the benefit and feasibility of therapeutic ketosis is examined in preclinical and clinical studies. Finally, ongoing clinical trials are reviewed for perspective on translation of ketone therapeutics for the treatment of HF.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)882-898
Number of pages17
JournalCirculation research
Issue number7
StatePublished - Mar 31 2023

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2023 Lippincott Williams and Wilkins. All rights reserved.


  • 3-hydroxybutyric acid
  • acetoacetate
  • diet, ketogenic
  • fatty acid oxidation
  • heart failure
  • hypertrophy
  • ketone bodies

PubMed: MeSH publication types

  • Journal Article
  • Review
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural


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