Our research has shown that interventions producing a state of ketosis are highly effective in rat, mouse, and cat models of polycystic kidney disease (PKD), preventing and partially reversing cyst growth and disease progression. The ketone β-hydroxybutyrate (BHB) appears to underlie this effect. In addition, we have demonstrated that naturally formed microcrystals within kidney tubules trigger a renoprotective response that facilitates tubular obstruction clearance in healthy animals but, alternatively, leads to cyst formation in PKD. The administration of citrate prevents microcrystal formation and slows PKD progression. Juvenile Cy/+ rats, a nonorthologous PKD model, were supplemented from 3 to 8 wk of age with water containing titrated BHB, citrate, or in combination to find minimal effective and optimal dosages, respectively. Adult rats were given a reduced BHB/citrate combination or equimolar control K/NaCl salts from 8 to 12 wk of age. In addition, adult rats were placed in metabolic cages following BHB, citrate, and BHB/citrate administration to determine the impact on mineral, creatinine, and citrate excretion. BHB or citrate alone effectively ameliorates disease progression in juvenile rats, decreasing markers of cystic disease and, in combination, producing a synergistic effect. BHB/citrate leads to partial disease regression in adult rats with established cystic disease, inhibiting cyst formation and kidney injury. BHB/citrate confers benefits via multiple mechanisms, increases creatinine and citrate excretion, and normalizes mineral excretion. BHB and citrate are widely available and generally recognized as safe compounds and, in combination, exhibit high promise for supporting kidney health in polycystic kidney disease.NEW & NOTEWORTHY Combining β-hydroxybutyrate (BHB) and citrate effectively slows and prevents cyst formation and expansion in young Cy/+ rats using less BHB and citrate than when used alone, demonstrating synergy. In adult rats, the combination causes a partial reversal of existing disease, reducing cyst number and cystic area, preserving glomerular health, and decreasing markers of kidney injury. Our results suggest a safe and feasible strategy for supporting kidney health in polycystic kidney disease (PKD) using a combination of BHB and citrate.

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