Vitamin K2 shown to reduce arterial calcification in kidney disease model

By Hank Schultz

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Vitamin d

Vitamin K2 shown to reduce arterial calcification in kidney disease model
A new study has found the vitamin K2 supplementation suppresses calcification and resultant muscle damage in rats in a kidney disease model. The result helps bolster the vitamin’s bone and cardiovascular health benefits, according to Norwegian company NattoPharma, which supplied the study material.

In the study published online recently by the peer reviewed journal Nutrients​, researchers connected with he University of Düsseldorf in German and the University of Maastricht in the Netherlands looked into the issue of systemic calcifcation in the presence of kidney disease, a common complication of the condition.

“Cardiovascular calcification is prevalent in the aging population and in patients with chronic kidney disease (CKD) and diabetes mellitus, giving rise to substantial morbidity and mortality,”​ said lead researcher Dr Leon Schurgers, of University of Maastricht. “The aim of this study was to evaluate the impact of high-dose MK-7 supplementation on the development of cardiovascular calcification and the impact on cardiovascular function in a murine model of chronic kidney disease characterized by extra osseous calcification.”

Study details

Using an in-vivo​ rat model system for kidney disease, the scientists divided the animals into four groups of 10 or 11 each. Two control groups had intact kidneys and were fed a standard diet with respect to phosphate and calcium content with one of these groups being supplemented with 100µg/g of vitamin K2 (Nattopharma’s MenaQ7 Pure, a nature identical form of MK-7). The other two groups had 5/6 of their kidneys removed (mimicking a human kidney failure model) and received a diet high in phosphate and calcium, with again one of these groups receiving the MK-7 intervention at 100µ/g.

After 12 weeks, the animals were examined for calcification of the aorta, the myocardium, and in kidneys, as well as for certain other changes in the tissues. Using an atomic absorption spectroscopy technique, researchers determined that high-dose MK-7 inhibits calcification in aorta and in the myocardium—parts of the arterial system most often affected in kidney patients. MK-7 also normalized the kidney disease-induced high serum phosphate level.

Interestingly, a 10-fold increase in matrix Gla protein (MGP) gene expression in the MK-7 supplemented animals was recorded. This protein has a high affinity for calcium ions and has been shown to play a role in the suppression of arterial calcification and in promoting bone organization. According to the authors, this is the first time that MK-7 has been shown to affect the synthesis of MGP in the vascular wall – and not only locally in the arterial wall. This indicates an increased amount of MGP available for activation to inhibit calcification.

The researchers stated that MK-7 supplementation inhibited cardiovascular calcification and decreased aortic alkaline phosphate tissue concentrations. The effect of MK-7 was – at least in part – mediated via MGP and subsequent inhibition of ectopic calcification. Since vitamin K has no reported side effects, it seems a promising therapeutic agent for CKD patients, the researchers concluded.

Research suite

Eric Anderson, senior vice president of global sales for NattoPharma, said this most recent study builds on work the company has been doing on the ingredient over the last several years. It is a solid therapeutic result that could serve to counteract some of the negative publicity the supplement sector has suffered under recently.

“We are standing up the roof saying hey, look, vitamins work,”​ Anderson told NutraIngredients-USA. “In this study, where the researchers went to great lengths to induce calcification, vitamin K2 suppressed this development.  When this calcification occurs in you get calcium crystals being deposited in smooth musculature like the heart or arterial walls, and every time those muscles contract you get damage.”

Anderson said that this most recent study taken together with the earlier work shows vitamin K2’s critical role in modulating the mobility of calcium in and out of the bones. Calcium supplementation has suffered some negative publicity in recent years, but Anderson said much of that comes from studies that omitted co supplementation with vitamin D3 and, critically, with vitamin K2. He said earlier work done on the ingredient in health populations has shown it promotes preservation of bone mass and strength  and protection against and even regression of hardening of the arteries.

“We’ve shown in our three year studes in healthy postmenpausal women the progress of calcification in the arteries was halted and the arteries actually becmoe more flexible  And we’ve shown in another study in a healthy, older population that bone mass was preserved and the risk fracture was pushed out beyond life expectancy,”​ Anderson said.


High-Dose Menaquinone-7 Supplementation Reduces Cardiovascular Calcification in a Murine Model of Extraosseous Calcification”
Nutrients2015​, 7​(8), 6991-7011; doi:10.3390/nu7085318
Authors: Schurgers, Leon J, et al

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