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Eur J Clin Nutr. 2005 Jan;59(1):72-81.

Ethnic differences in osteocalcin gamma-carboxylation, plasma phylloquinone (vitamin K1) and apolipoprotein E genotype.

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MRC Human Nutrition Research (formerly MRC Dunn Nutritional Laboratory), Elsie Widdowson Laboratory, Cambridge, UK.



To investigate plasma osteocalcin gamma-carboxylation and its relationship to plasma phylloquinone concentration and apolipoprotein E (apoE) genotype in women from three ethnic groups with differing osteoporotic fracture risk.


Fasted blood samples were collected from postmenopausal Gambian (n=50), British (n=31) and Chinese women (n=23), and 11 premenopausal women in each group from three cross-sectional studies.


After adjustment for total osteocalcin, plasma undercarboxylated osteocalcin (adjusted ucOC) was lowest in Chinese and highest in British women postmenopause (British vs Chinese 103% higher, P<0.0001; Gambian vs Chinese 66% higher, P<0.01). No differences were observed premenopause. Within each ethnic group, adjusted ucOC was similar pre- and postmenopause. Postmenopause, plasma phylloquinone was higher in Chinese women (1.0 ng/ml) than in British (0.31 ng/ml) and Gambian women (0.36 ng/ml) (P<0.0001). Premenopause, plasma phylloquinone was higher in Gambian and Chinese women (0.6 ng/ml) than in British women (0.3 ng/ml; P=0.01). Plasma phylloquinone and adjusted ucOC were inversely related in postmenopausal British women (R2=32.4%; P=0.0008). ApoE4 frequency was Gambian 32.6%, British 13.8% and Chinese 6%. A lower adjusted ucOC was associated with apoE2 genotype in British and Chinese women. Ethnic differences in adjusted ucOC persisted after adjustment for phylloquinone and apoE genotype.


These preliminary data indicate suboptimal vitamin K status in postmenopausal British compared to Chinese and Gambian women. Ethnic differences in apoE genotype may also influence osteocalcin gamma-carboxylation status. The study highlights the need for larger epidemiological investigations of ethnic differences in vitamin K status and the possible implications to bone health.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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