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Two Studies Point to Vitamin K-dependent Protein for Heart Health

Two newly published studies add to the mounting evidence supporting vitamin K’s role in heart health.

Two newly published studies add to the mounting evidence supporting vitamin K’s role in heart health.

The studies, published in Nephron and the American Journal of Hypertension link the vitamin K-dependent protein MGP (matrix GLA-protein) to vascular calcification, vascular and arterial stiffness.(Nephron. 2016. DOI:10.1159/000453368, Am J Hypertens. 2016. DOI:10.1093/ajh/hpw146)

“The mechanism of MGP inhibiting arterial calcification has been clearly established in cellular, animal and now human studies," says Hogne Vik, chief medical officer with NattoPharma, supplier of MenaQ7® vitamin K2 as MK-7. “In fact, adequate vitamin K is required to activate MGP. 

The Nephron cross-sectional trial enrolled 83 chronic kidney disease (CKD) stages 3–5 patients. Vascular calcification scores were determined by measuring calcific lesions in the abdominal aorta, vascular stiffness was assessed using a cardio-ankle vascular index (CAVI) and pulse wave velocity, while plasma dpucMGP, or inactive MGP, levels were measured using an ELISA method. The study selected factors that were independently associated with vascular calcification and vascular stiffness.

Authors concluded inactive MGP levels in blood plasma increase according to the severity of chronic kidney disease. Also, inactive MGP levels were positively associated with increased vascular calcification and might be utilized as an early marker for vascular calcification in CKD patients.

The American Journal of Hypertension trial sought to identify pathways related to arterial stiffness to provide novel therapeutic targets to help reduce arterial stiffness in diabetes patients; large-artery stiffness is increased in diabetes, which increases the burden to the heart and microvasculature. In a group of 66 diabetes type 2 patients, pulse wave velocity (PWV) was used as a measure of stiffness, and inactive or dp-ucMGP was measured by the vitamin K experts at VitaK, the Netherlands.

The authors concluded that inactive MGP was independently associated with pulse wave velocity in these diabetes patients. The authors noted: “This suggests that deficient vitamin K-dependent activation of MGP may lead to large-artery stiffening and could be targeted with vitamin K supplementation in the patients with diabetes."

This research is welcomed by numerous additional, recent studies supporting the role of vitamin K—specifically vitamin K2—in heart health. In 2016, research was published showing vitamin K2 (as MenaQ7) was inversely correlated with early cardiovascular disease (CVD) mortality to the same degree that tobacco use was positively correlated and reduced risk of CHD (coronary heart disease) in hypertensive participants. In 2015, vitamin K2 (as MenaQ7) reduced arterial stiffness in healthy, postmenopausaul women.

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