<biochemistry> Any of the three compounds created by acetyl coenzyme A (acetoacetate, hydroxybutyrate, and acetone) which are water-soluble cellular fuels normally exported by the liver.

They can build up in the blood and body tissues because of starvation, untreated diabetes mellitus, or other disorders that interfere with carbohydrate metabolism. The body rids itself of ketones mainly through urine, but it rids itself of acetone through the lungs, which gives the breath a characteristic fruity odour. If ketones build up in the body long enough, they cause serious illness and coma (see ketoacidosis.)

(09 Oct 1997)