Dr. Dominic D'Agostino, PhD

Dr. Dominic D’Agostino is an Associate Professor in the Department of Molecular Pharmacology and Physiology at the University of South Florida Morsani College of Medicine. He is also a Research Scientist at the Institute for Human and Machine Cognition (IHMC).

The main focus of his lab over the last 10 years has been understanding the anticonvulsant and neuroprotective mechanism of the ketogenic diet and ketone metabolite supplementation. The shift in brain metabolism (from glucose to ketones) reduces neuronal hyperexcitability, oxidative stress and enhances brain metabolism. This approach can be used to treat a wide variety of pathologies linked pathophysiologically to metabolic dysregulation, including cancer.

Books by Dr. Dominic D'Agostino, PhD

Video Presentations of Dr. Dominic D'Agostino, PhD

Keto Nutrition: From Science to Application - with Dr. Dominic D'Agostino

Filmed at the Emerging Science of Carbohydrate Restriction and Nutritional Ketosis, Scientific Sessions at The Ohio State University.

An impressive body of scientific evidence over the last 15 years documents long term benefits of carbohydrate-restricted, especially ketogenic, diets. We now understand molecular mechanisms and why they work. Popular books and articles now challenge the advice ‘carbohydrates are good and fats are bad.’ Circa mid-19th century urinary ketones were identified in diabetics sealing their toxic label for the next 150 years. Despite work four decades ago showing ketones were highly functional metabolites, they are still misidentified as toxic byproducts of fat metabolism. The vilification of fat by regulatory and popular dogma perpetuates this myth. But the nutrition-metabolic landscape is improving dramatically.

A growing number of researchers have contributed to what is now a critical mass of science that provides compelling clinical evidence that ketogenic diets uniquely benefit weight loss, pre-diabetes, and type-2 diabetes. In the last five years, basic scientists have discovered that b-hydroxybutyrate (BHB), the primary circulating ketone, is a potent signaling molecule that decreases inflammation and oxidative stress. BHB has been suggested to be a longevity metabolite, with strong support from recently published mouse studies showing decreased midlife mortality and extended longevity and healthspan. Although type-2 diabetes is often described as a chronic progressive disease, emerging evidence indicates that sustained nutritional ketosis can reverses the disease. There is growing interest in studying potential therapeutic effects of ketosis on cardiovascular diseases, cancer, and neurodegenerative diseases including Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s. There are even reasons certain athletes may benefit from nutritional ketosis and ketone supplements ─ debunking the long-standing dogma that high carbohydrate intake is required to perform optimally.

The Shocking Truth About the Keto Diet - with Dr. Dominic D'Agostino

Neuroscientist, Professor, and Research Scientist, Dr. Dom D’Agostino, explains the science behind the Ketogenic Diet and how to effectively apply this nutritional strategy to improve your lifestyle.

Optimizing Ketogenic Nutrition for Metabolic Health - with Prof. Dominic D'Agostino

Nutritional ketosis has been robustly shown to improve brain health, systemic metabolic health, and to be a useful tool to resolve a number of specific conditions, such as epilepsy and Type 2 diabetes. Dr. Dominic D’Agostino will review the metabolic impact of ketosis — whether achieved through a ketogenic diet or nutritional supplements — and outline its neuroprotective, anti-inflammatory, and regulatory effects. He will summarize both proven and emerging therapeutic uses for the ketogenic diet and will also provide an understanding of the potential applications of ketogenic therapies for resolving specific maladies and for general health improvement and disease prevention.

Emerging Applications of Nutritional Ketosis - with Dr. Dominic D'Agostino

"Metabolic Therapies: Therapeutic Implications and Practical Application - Lecture 1" - Dr. Dominic D'Agostino

"Metabolic Therapies: Therapeutic Implications and Practical Application  - Lecture 2" - Dr. Dominic D'Agostino

Metabolic therapies that induce a state of mild ketosis from caloric restriction or the ketogenic diet offer neuroprotection against a wide range of pathologies, and continues to be an emerging strategy for the metabolic management of cancer. Severe dietary restriction of calories or carbohydrates is typically needed to produce a level of ketosis that achieves therapeutic benefits. Interestingly, the strategy to use exogenous ketones as an alternative fuel has not been exploited therapeutically. When administered orally in controlled dosages, ketone esters and other ketogenic agents can lower glucose and elevate plasma ketone levels comparable to levels achieved by the most rigorous ketogenic diets. Metabolic therapies in the form of ketone supplementation offer a safe, convenient, and versatile new treatment approach for a variety of diseases, including seizure disorders, neurodegenerative diseases and cancer.

Dominic D’Agostino is an Assistant Professor at the University of South Florida’s Morsani College of Medicine. Dr. D’Agostino teaches in the Department of Molecular Pharmacology and Physiology with an emphasis on such topics as Biochemistry, Neuropharmacology and Nutrition. His research is focused on developing and testing nutritional strategies for promoting healthy weight loss and enhancing cognitive and physical performance. In addition, his research aims to develop and test specific metabolic therapies and supplements for neurological diseases and cancer. Dr. D’Agostino’s research is supported by the Office of Naval Research (ONR), Department of Defense (DoD) and private foundations.

Ketosis for Brain Health - with Dr. Dominic D'Agostino

You can't look at the world of ketone research without seeing the impact of Dr. D'Agostino. Dom is the leading authority of how ketogenic diets and exogenous ketones impact brain health and function.

In this brief interview, we learn about Dom's research interests, and the important details of of how ketones protect the brain and where their clinical potential may lie.

Although our interview was cut short, Dom packs in a wealth of information about how we can use ketones to maintain brain health.

"Ketone Effects on the Brain: ApoE4, Vascular Dementia, Ischemia and Epilepsy" - Dr. Dominic D'Agostino

Elevated levels of ketone bodies, such as beta-hydroxybutyrate, can have beneficial effects on several brain-related diseases. Research suggests that ketone bodies can increase blood flow in the brain by 30 to 40 percent, which may have profound effects for patients with brain injury or vascular dementia. By studying ischemic wounds, which are analogous to an aged brain or clogged arteries, researchers observed increased blood flow when ketone levels were elevated. Nutritional ketosis may also reduce neural inflammation which may be a predictor of seizure in epilepsy. In this clip, Dr. Dominic D'Agostino describes the positive effects that ketones can have on the brain.

The Ketogenic Diet and Cancer Research - Dr. Dominic D'Agostino

Nutritional interventions in conjunction with the standard of care may augment the treatment for some cancers. Researchers have observed synergism between the ketogenic diet and hyperbaric oxygen against tumor cells. Moreover, Dr. D'Agostino suggests that ketosis stimulates the immune system, increasing its ability to detect cancer cells. However, he cautions that some cancer cells can use ketones as fuel, and this domain needs more research. In addition, a ketogenic diet may be designed to incorporate anti-carcinogenic phytonutrients and fiber. In this clip, Dr. Dominic D'Agostino discusses the implications of adding a ketogenic diet to cancer treatment protocols.

Scholarly Articles from Dr. Dominic D'Agostino, PhD

Effects of Ketogenic Dieting on Body Composition, Strength, ... : The Journal of Strength & Conditioning Researchthe impact of an isocaloric and isonitrogenous ketogenic diet (KD) versus a traditional western diet (WD) on changes in body composition, performance, blood lipids, and hormonal profiles in resistance-trained athletes. Twenty-five college-aged men were divided into a KD or traditional WD from weeks 1 to 10, with a reintroduction of carbohydrates from weeks 10 to 11, while participating in a resistance training program. Body composition, strength, power, and blood lipid profiles were determined at weeks 0, 10, and 11. A comprehensive metabolic panel and testosterone levels were also measured at weeks 0 and 11. Lean body mass (LBM) increased in both the KD and WD groups (2.4% and 4.4%, p < 0.01) at week 10. However, only the KD group showed an increase in LBM between weeks 10 and 11 (4.8%, p < 0.0001). Finally, fat mass decreased in both the KD (−2.2 ± 1.2 kg) and WD groups (−1.5 ± 1.6 kg). Strength and power increased to the same extent in the WD and KD conditions from weeks 1 to 11. No changes in any serum lipid measures occurred from weeks 1 to 10; however, a rapid reintroduction of carbohydrate from weeks 10 to 11 raised plasma triglyceride levels in the KD group. Total testosterone increased significantly from weeks 0 to 11 in the KD diet (118 ng·dl−1) as compared to the WD (−36 ng·dl−1) from pre to post while insulin did not change. The KD can be used in combination with resistance training to cause favorable changes in body composition, performance, and hormonal profiles in resistance-trained men....
Effects of exogenous ketone supplementation on blood ketone, glucose, triglyceride, and lipoprotein levels in Sprague–Dawley rats - Nutrition & MetabolismBackground Nutritional ketosis induced by the ketogenic diet (KD) has therapeutic applications for many disease states. We hypothesized that oral administration of exogenous ketone supplements could produce sustained nutritional ketosis (>0.5 mM) without carbohydrate restriction. Methods We tested the effects of 28-day administration of five ketone supplements on blood glucose, ketones, and lipids in male Sprague–Dawley rats. The supplements included: 1,3-butanediol (BD), a sodium/potassium β-hydroxybutyrate (βHB) mineral salt (BMS), medium chain triglyceride oil (MCT), BMS + MCT 1:1 mixture, and 1,3 butanediol acetoacetate diester (KE). Rats received a daily 5–10 g/kg dose of their respective ketone supplement via intragastric gavage during treatment. Weekly whole blood samples were taken for analysis of glucose and βHB at baseline and, 0.5, 1, 4, 8, and 12 h post-gavage, or until βHB returned to baseline. At 28 days, triglycerides, total cholesterol and high-density lipoprotein (HDL) were measured. Results Exogenous ketone supplementation caused a rapid and sustained elevation of βHB, reduction of glucose, and little change to lipid biomarkers compared to control animals. Conclusions This study demonstrates the efficacy and tolerability of oral exogenous ketone supplementation in inducing nutritional ketosis independent of dietary restriction.
The Ketogenic Diet and Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy Prolong Survival in Mice with Systemic Metastatic CancerIntroduction Abnormal cancer metabolism creates a glycolytic-dependency which can be exploited by lowering glucose availability to the tumor. The ketogenic diet (KD) is a low carbohydrate, high fat diet which decreases blood glucose and elevates blood ketones and has been shown to slow cancer progression in animals and humans. Abnormal tumor vasculature creates hypoxic pockets which promote cancer progression and further increase the glycolytic-dependency of cancers. Hyperbaric oxygen therapy (HBO2T) saturates tumors with oxygen, reversing the cancer promoting effects of tumor hypoxia. Since these non-toxic therapies exploit overlapping metabolic deficiencies of cancer, we tested their combined effects on cancer progression in a natural model of metastatic disease. Methods We used the firefly luciferase-tagged VM-M3 mouse model of metastatic cancer to compare tumor progression and survival in mice fed standard or KD ad libitum with or without HBO2T (2.5 ATM absolute, 90 min, 3x/week). Tumor growth was monitored by in vivo bioluminescent imaging. Results KD alone significantly decreased blood glucose, slowed tumor growth, and increased mean survival time by 56.7% in mice with systemic metastatic cancer. While HBO2T alone did not influence cancer progression, combining the KD with HBO2T elicited a significant decrease in blood glucose, tumor growth rate, and 77.9% increase in mean survival time compared to controls. Conclusions KD and HBO2T produce significant anti-cancer effects when combined in a natural model of systemic metastatic cancer. Our evidence suggests that these therapies should be further investigated as potential non-toxic treatments or adjuvant therapies to standard care for patients with systemic metastatic disease.
Potential Protective Mechanisms of Ketone Bodies in Migraine PreventionAn increasing amount of evidence suggests that migraines are a response to a cerebral energy deficiency or oxidative stress levels that exceed antioxidant capacity. The ketogenic diet (KD), a diet mimicking fasting that leads to the elevation of ketone bodies (KBs), is a therapeutic intervention targeting cerebral metabolism that has recently shown great promise in the prevention of migraines. KBs are an alternative fuel source for the brain, and are thus likely able to circumvent some of the abnormalities in glucose metabolism and transport found in migraines. Recent research has shown that KBs—D-β-hydroxybutyrate in particular—are more than metabolites. As signalling molecules, they have the potential to positively influence other pathways commonly believed to be part of migraine pathophysiology, namely: mitochondrial functioning, oxidative stress, cerebral excitability, inflammation and the gut microbiome. This review will describe the mechanisms by which the presence of KBs, D-BHB in particular, could influence those migraine pathophysiological mechanisms. To this end, common abnormalities in migraines are summarised with a particular focus on clinical data, including phenotypic, biochemical, genetic and therapeutic studies. Experimental animal data will be discussed to elaborate on the potential therapeutic mechanisms of elevated KBs in migraine pathophysiology, with a particular focus on the actions of D-BHB. In complex diseases such as migraines, a therapy that can target multiple possible pathogenic pathways seems advantageous. Further research is needed to establish whether the absence/restriction of dietary carbohydrates, the presence of KBs, or both, are of primary importance for the migraine protective effects of the KD.