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J Nutr Biochem. 2013 Apr;24(4):624-8. doi: 10.1016/j.jnutbio.2012.02.012. Epub 2012 Jul 20.

Circulating matrix Gla protein is associated with coronary artery calcification and vitamin K status in healthy women.

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Julius Center for Health Sciences and Primary Care, University Medical Center Utrecht, 3508 GA Utrecht, The Netherlands.


Matrix Gla protein (MGP) is a vitamin K-dependent protein and an inhibitor of vascular calcification. Vitamin K is required for the carboxylation of MGP and can thereby reduce calcification. Circulating MGP species with different conformations have been investigated as markers for coronary artery calcification (CAC). In high-risk populations, high total uncarboxylated MGP (t-ucMGP) was associated with decreased CAC, while high non-phosphorylated uncarboxylated MGP (dp-ucMGP) was associated with a poor vitamin K status. This cross-sectional study investigated the association of MGP species with CAC, vitamin K status among 200 healthy women. Circulating dp-ucMGP, t-ucMGP and, non-phosphorylated carboxylated MGP (dp-cMGP) levels were measured by ELISA techniques and Agatston score by multi-detector computed tomography. The ratio of uncarboxylated to carboxylated osteocalcin was used as proxy of vitamin K status. A borderline significant (P=.06) association between higher circulating dp-ucMGP levels and high CAC was observed (β=0.091, 95% CI-0.01; 0.19). In the entire study population, high t-ucMGP levels tended to be associated (P=.09) with lower CAC (β=-0.36, 95% CI:-0.78; 0.06). This association strengthened amongst women with CAC to a significant relation between high t-ucMGP levels and lower CAC (β=-0.55, 95% CI-1.01;-0.10). Dp-cMGP was not associated with CAC. Low vitamin K-status was associated with high dp-ucMGP concentrations (β=0.138, 95% CI 0.09; 0.19) but not with other MGP species. These results show that dp-ucMGP may serve as a biomarker of vitamin K status. Circulating dp-ucMGP and t-ucMGP may serve as markers for the extent of CAC, but these findings need to be confirmed.

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