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Kidney Int. 2013 May;83(5):835-44. doi: 10.1038/ki.2012.477. Epub 2013 Jan 23.

Dietary vitamin K and therapeutic warfarin alter the susceptibility to vascular calcification in experimental chronic kidney disease.

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Department of Biomedical and Molecular Sciences, Queen's University, Kingston, Ontario, Canada.


The leading cause of death in patients with chronic kidney disease (CKD) is cardiovascular disease, with vascular calcification being a key modifier of disease progression. A local regulator of vascular calcification is vitamin K. This γ-glutamyl carboxylase substrate is an essential cofactor in the activation of several extracellular matrix proteins that inhibit calcification. Warfarin, a common therapy in dialysis patients, inhibits the recycling of vitamin K and thereby decreases the inhibitory activity of these proteins. In this study, we sought to determine whether modifying vitamin K status, either by increasing dietary vitamin K intake or by antagonism with therapeutic doses of warfarin, could alter the development of vascular calcification in male Sprague-Dawley rats with adenine-induced CKD. Treatment of CKD rats with warfarin markedly increased pulse pressure and pulse wave velocity, as well as significantly increased calcium concentrations in the thoracic aorta (3-fold), abdominal aorta (8-fold), renal artery (4-fold), and carotid artery (20-fold). In contrast, treatment with high dietary vitamin K1 increased vitamin K tissue concentrations (10-300-fold) and blunted the development of vascular calcification. Thus, vitamin K has an important role in modifying mechanisms linked to the susceptibility of arteries to calcify in an experimental model of CKD.

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