Study finds potential association between vitamin K status and COVID-19 mortality

A recent study partially funded by Kappa Bioscience found that low vitamin K status may be associated with higher mortality in COVID-19 patients.

A recent study1 partially funded by Kappa Bioscience (Oslo, Sweden) found that low vitamin K status may be associated with higher mortality in COVID-19 patients. In a cohort of 138 COVID-19 patients and 138 population controls, researchers measured plasma dephosphorylated-uncarboxylated Matrix Gla Protein (dp-ucMGP), which reflects the functional vitamin K status in peripheral tissue. Higher levels of dp-ucMGP signifies lower vitamin K status.

Among the COVID-19 patients, 43 died within 90 days from admission. Levels of dp-ucMGP differed significantly between patients that survived and those who died, and levels were significantly higher in patients compared to controls. Sex and age adjusted analysis found a statistically significant associations between increased levels of dp-ucMGP and high mortality risk. However, when the association was adjusted for co-morbidities, this association was statistically insignificant.

While the association can be partly explained by co-morbidities, the study does point to a potential role that vitamin K may play in the disease mechanisms of COVID-19. “It is hypothesized that in a state of severe vitamin K deficiency, the intrahepatic vitamin K-dependent activation of prothrombotic proteins is prioritized on the expense of peripheral activation of vitamin K-dependent proteins, such as the antithrombotic protein S, and calcification-inhibitory MGP,” explains Professor Allan Linneberg, MD, PhD, director of Center for Clinical Research and Prevention at from the Bispebjerg and Frederiksberg Hospital, in Denmark. “In addition, this may increase calcification and subsequent degradation of elastic fibres in lung tissue, leading to more severe lung damage in COVID-19 patients.”


  1. Linneberg A et al. “The association of low vitamin K status with mortality in a cohort of 138 hospitalzed patients with COVID-19.” Nutrient, vol. 13, no. 6 (2021): 1985