Last Editorial Review: 6/11/2021
Other Name(s):

A-cétoglutarate, A-Ketoglutaric Acid, Acide 2-Oxoglutarique, Acide a-cétoglutarique, Acide Alpha-Cétoglutarique, Alfa-Cetoglutarato, Alpha-Cétoglutarate, Alpha-Cétoglutarate d'Arginine, Alpha-Cétoglutarate de Calcium, Alpha-Cétoglutarate de Créatine, Alpha-Cétoglutarate de Glutamine, Alpha-Cétoglutarate de L-Arginine, Alpha-Cétoglutarate de L-Leucine, Alpha-Cétoglutarate de Taurine, Alpha Keto Glutaric Acid, Alpha Ketoglutarate, Alpha Ketoglutaric Acid, Alpha KG, AAKG, AKG, Arginine Alpha-Ketoglutarate, Calcium Alpha-Ketoglutarate, Creatine Alpha-Ketoglutarate, Glutamine Alpha-Ketoglutarate, L-Arginine AKG, L-Arginine Alpha Keto Glutarate, L-Leucine Alpha-Ketoglutarate, Taurine Alpha-Ketoglutarate, 2-Oxoglutaric Acid, 2-Oxopentanedoicic Acid.


Alpha-ketoglutarate is a chemical found in the body. People use it to make medicine.

Alpha-ketoglutarate is used for kidney disease; intestinal and stomach disorders, including bacterial infections; liver problems; cataracts; and recurring yeast infections. It is also used for improving the way kidney patients receiving hemodialysis treatments process protein.

Some people take alpha-ketoglutarate to improve peak athletic performance. Suppliers of athletic nutritional supplements claim alpha-ketoglutaric acid may be an important addition to proper diet and training for the athlete who wants peak performance. They base this claim on studies that show extra ammonia in the body can combine with alpha-ketoglutarate to reduce problems associated with too much ammonia (ammonia toxicity). But, so far, the only studies that show alpha-ketoglutarate can reduce ammonia toxicity have been performed in hemodialysis patients.

Healthcare providers sometimes give alpha-ketoglutarate intravenously (by IV) for preventing injury to the heart caused by blood flow problems during heart surgery and for preventing muscle breakdown after surgery or trauma.

How does it work?

Alpha-ketoglutarate works in many pathways in the body, to help make muscle, and to help heal wounds.


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Uses & Effectiveness

Possibly Effective for...

  • Improving kidney failure treatment (hemodialysis). Taking calcium alpha-ketoglutarate seems to improve results of certain lab tests used to monitor the effectiveness of hemodialysis in patients receiving this treatment.
  • Preventing blood supply problems during heart surgery. Administering alpha-ketoglutarate intravenously (by IV) seems to reduce blood supply problems during heart surgery.
  • Preventing muscle breakdown. Alpha-ketoglutarate seems to reduce muscle breakdown after surgery or trauma.

Insufficient Evidence to Rate Effectiveness for...

  • Athletic performance. A small study found that taking alpha-ketoglutarate daily for 5 weeks improves athletic performance.
  • Kidney disease.
  • Intestinal and stomach disorders.
  • Bacterial infections.
  • Yeast infections.
  • Cataracts.
  • Other conditions.
More evidence is needed to rate the effectiveness of alpha-ketoglutarate for these uses.

Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database rates effectiveness based on scientific evidence according to the following scale: Effective, Likely Effective, Possibly Effective, Possibly Ineffective, Likely Ineffective, and Insufficient Evidence to Rate (detailed description of each of the ratings).

Side Effects

Alpha-ketoglutarate is POSSIBLY SAFE for most adults when used appropriately.


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Special Precautions & Warnings

Pregnancy and breast-feeding: Not enough is known about the use of alpha-ketoglutarate during pregnancy and breast-feeding. Stay on the safe side and avoid use.


The following doses have been studied in scientific research:


  • For preventing blood supply problems during heart surgery and for preventing muscle breakdown after surgery or trauma: healthcare providers give alpha-ketoglutarate intravenously (by IV).

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Report Problems to the Food and Drug Administration

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Hammarqvist, F., Wernerman, J., von der, Decken A., and Vinnars, E. Alpha-ketoglutarate preserves protein synthesis and free glutamine in skeletal muscle after surgery. Surgery 1991;109(1):28-36. View abstract.

Hansen, H. E. and Skov, P. E. The excretional patterns of lactate, pyruvate and alpha-ketoglutarate in renal transplants. Acta Med.Scand. 1978;203(3):187-189. View abstract.

Mason, G. F., Gruetter, R., Rothman, D. L., Behar, K. L., Shulman, R. G., and Novotny, E. J. Simultaneous determination of the rates of the TCA cycle, glucose utilization, alpha-ketoglutarate/glutamate exchange, and glutamine synthesis in human brain by NMR. J.Cereb.Blood Flow Metab 1995;15(1):12-25. View abstract.

Riedel, E., Hampl, H., Steudle, V., and Nundel, M. Calcium alpha-ketoglutarate administration to malnourished hemodialysis patients improves plasma arginine concentrations. Miner.Electrolyte Metab 1996;22(1-3):119-122. View abstract.

Salerno, F., Abbiati, R., and Fici, F. Effect of pyridoxine alpha-ketoglutarate (PAK) on ammonia and pyruvic and lactic acid blood levels in patients with cirrhosis. Int.J.Clin.Pharmacol.Res. 1983;3(1):21-25. View abstract.

Skov, P. E. and Hansen, H. E. Renal excretion of pyruvate, lactate and alpha-ketoglutarate in kidney donors before and after nephrectomy and in patients with terminal uremia. Acta Med.Scand. 1977;202(1-2):81-85. View abstract.

Son, E. D., Choi, G. H., Kim, H., Lee, B., Chang, I. S., and Hwang, J. S. Alpha-ketoglutarate stimulates procollagen production in cultured human dermal fibroblasts, and decreases UVB-induced wrinkle formation following topical application on the dorsal skin of hairless mice. Biol.Pharm.Bull. 2007;30(8):1395-1399. View abstract.

Wiren, M., Permert, J., and Larsson, J. Alpha-ketoglutarate-supplemented enteral nutrition: effects on postoperative nitrogen balance and muscle catabolism. Nutrition 2002;18(9):725-728. View abstract.

Zimmermann, E., Wassmer, S., and Steudle, V. Long-term treatment with calcium-alpha-ketoglutarate corrects secondary hyperparathyroidism. Miner.Electrolyte Metab 1996;22(1-3):196-199. View abstract.

Aussel C, Coudray-Lucas C, Lasnier E, et al. Alpha-Ketoglutarate uptake in human fibroblasts. Cell Biol Int 1996;20:359-63. View abstract.

Blomqvist BI, Hammarqvist F, von der Decken A, et al. Glutamine and alpha-ketoglutarate prevent the decrease in muscle free glutamine concentration and influence protein synthesis after total hip replacement. Metabolism 1995;44:1215-22. View abstract.

Blomqvist BI, Hammarqvist F, von der Decken A, Wernerman J. Glutamine and alpha-ketoglutarate prevent the decrease in muscle free glutamine concentration and influence protein synthesis after total hip replacement. Metabolism 1995;44:1215-22. View abstract.

Jeppsson A, Ekroth R, Friberg P, et al. Renal effects of alpha-ketoglutarate early after coronary operations. Ann Thorac Surg 1998;65:684-90. View abstract.

Kjellman U, Bjork K, Ekroth R, et al. Alpha-ketoglutarate for myocardial protection in heart surgery. Lancet 1995;345:552-3. View abstract.

Kjellman UW, Bjork K, Ekroth R, et al. Addition of alpha-ketoglutarate to blood cardioplegia improves cardioprotection. Ann Thorac Surg 1997;63:1625-33. View abstract.

Liu Y, Lange R, Langanky J, et al. Improved training tolerance by supplementation with a-keto acids in untrained young adults: a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial. Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition 2012;9:37. View abstract.

Marconi C, Sassi G, Cerretelli P. The effect of an alpha-ketoglutarate-pyridoxine complex on human maximal aerobic and anaerobic performance. Eur J Appl Physiol Occup Physiol 1982;49:307-17. View abstract.

Riedel E, Nundel M, Hampl H. Alpha-Ketoglutarate application in hemodialysis patients improves amino acid metabolism. Nephron 1996;74:261-5. View abstract.

Wernerman J, Hammarqvist F, Vinnars E. Alpha-ketoglutarate and postoperative muscle catabolism. Lancet 1990;335:701-3. View abstract.