Vitamin K Protein Inactivity Linked to Arterial Stiffness


Two recent studies suggest that the inactive MGP, a vitamin K–dependent protein, is associated with cardiovascular stiffness in patients with diabetes or chronic kidney disease.

Photo © Mihoc

Photo © Mihoc

NattoPharma (Oslo, Norway), the exclusive global supplier of Mena Q7 vitamin K2 as MK-7, has released new study results suggesting the lack of active matrix Gla-protein (MGP) is associated with vascular calcification, vascular stiffness, and arterial stiffness. MGP activation is dependent on vitamin K, researchers note, so the findings may therefore underline the importance of adequate vitamin K intake for cardiovascular health.

“The mechanism of MGP inhibiting arterial calcification has been clearly established in cellular, animal, and now human studies,” says Hogne Vik, chief medical officer for NattoPharma, in the research announcement. “In fact, adequate vitamin K is required to activate MGP. It is widely recognized that vitamin K2 as Menaquinone-7 is the most bioavailable and bioactive form of vitamin K available as a supplement today.”

The first study,1 published in Nephron, included 83 patients with chronic kidney disease (CKD) in stages 3–5, with a mean age of 62.9 +/- 13.9 years. Researchers measured vascular calcification and vascular stiffness by measuring calcific lesions in the abdominal aorta, and through assessing the cardio-ankle vascular index and pulse wave velocity, respectively. Blood plasma levels of inactive MGP were measured with an enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) method.

Researchers found that inactive MGP levels in plasma increased according to the severity of CKD, and were positively associated with increased vascular calcification. They concluded that high levels of inactive MGP, also known as dp-ucMGP, may also “be utilized as an early marker for vascular calcification in CKD patients.”

In the second study,2 researchers investigated pathways related to arterial stiffness in a group of 66 subjects who had type 2 diabetes, with a mean age of 62 +/- 12 years. Writing in the American Journal of Hypertension, researchers used pulse wave velocity to measure arterial stiffness through high-fidelity arterial tonometry. They found that circulating inactive MGP levels was independently associated with pulse wave velocity in the diabetes patients.

“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,” researchers concluded.

In the research announcement, NattoPharma points to the study findings as further evidence supporting the use of regular vitamin K supplementation for cardiovascular health.

“These new clinical investigations have documented correlations between arterial calcification and high amounts of inactive MGP-both in diabetic patients and in patients with CKD,” Vik says. “The good news is that vitamin K2-our MenaQ7 brand MK-7 ingredient-is demonstrated to reduce the levels of [inactive MGP], and that MenaQ7 is documented to reduce arterial stiffness in healthy individuals as well as in kidney patients.”


Read more:

Vitamin K Deficiency Linked with Higher Risk of Cardiovascular Disease?

Vitamin K2 Linked to Reduced Risk of Peripheral Arterial Disease, Study Suggests

Arterial-Health Concerns Could Get Consumers Taking Supplements, Survey Indicates


Michael Crane
Associate Editor
Nutritional Outlook Magazine


1.     Thamratnopkoon S et al., “Correlations of plasma desphosphorylated uncarboxylated matrix Gla protein with vascular calcification and vascular stiffness in chronic kidney disease,” Nephron. Published online December 13, 2016.

2.     Sardana M et al., “Inactive matrix Gla-protein and arterial stiffness in type 2 diabetes mellitus,” American Journal of Hypertension. Published online December 7, 2016.

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