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J Nutr. 2011 Aug;141(8):1529-34. doi: 10.3945/jn.111.139634. Epub 2011 May 31.

Circulating uncarboxylated matrix gla protein is associated with vitamin K nutritional status, but not coronary artery calcium, in older adults.

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  • 1Sticht Center on Aging, Wake Forest University School of Medicine, Winston-Salem, NC 27157, USA.


Matrix Gla protein (MGP) is a calcification inhibitor in vascular tissue that must be carboxylated by vitamin K to function. Evidence suggests circulating uncarboxylated MGP (ucMGP) is elevated in persons with disease characterized by vascular calcification. The primary purpose of this study was to determine cross-sectional and longitudinal associations between plasma ucMGP, vitamin K status, and coronary artery calcium (CAC) in older adults without coronary heart disease. Genetic determinants of ucMGP were also explored. Cross-sectional associations among baseline plasma ucMGP, vitamin K status biomarkers [plasma phylloquinone, uncarboxylated prothrombin (PIVKA-II), serum uncarboxylated osteocalcin (%ucOC)], CAC, and plausible genetic polymorphisms were examined in 438 community-dwelling adults (60-80 y, 59% women). The effect of phylloquinone supplementation (500 μg/d) for 3 y on plasma ucMGP was determined among 374 participants. At baseline, plasma phylloquinone was lower and %ucOC and PIVKA-II were greater across higher plasma ucMGP quartiles (all P < 0.001, age-adjusted). Major allele homozygotes for MGP rs1800801 and rs4236 had higher plasma ucMGP than heterozygotes or minor allele homozygotes. (P ≤ 0.004). The decrease in plasma ucMGP was greater in the 190 participants who received phylloquinone (mean ± SD) (-345 ± 251 pmol/L) than in the 184 who did not (-40 ± 196 pmol/L) (P < 0.0001). CAC did not differ according to ucMGP quartile (P = 0.35, age-adjusted). In the phylloquinone-supplemented group, the 3-y change in ucMGP was not associated with the 3-y change in CAC [unstandard β (SE) = -0.02 (0.02); P = 0.44]. Plasma ucMGP was associated with vitamin K status biomarkers and was reduced following phylloquinone supplementation, suggesting it may be a useful marker of vitamin K status in vascular tissue. Plasma ucMGP did not reflect CAC in healthy older adults.

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