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Am J Clin Nutr. 2017 Oct;106(4):1052-1061. doi: 10.3945/ajcn.117.155424. Epub 2017 Aug 16.

Fecal concentrations of bacterially derived vitamin K forms are associated with gut microbiota composition but not plasma or fecal cytokine concentrations in healthy adults.

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Jean Mayer US Department of Agriculture Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging at Tufts University, Boston, MA.
Tufts University School of Medicine, Boston, MA.
Bioinformatics and Computational Biology.
Department of Computer Science and Engineering, and.
Biotechnology Institute, University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, MN; and.
Bell Institute of Health and Nutrition, General Mills, Minneapolis, MN.
Jean Mayer US Department of Agriculture Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging at Tufts University, Boston, MA;


Background: Emerging evidence suggests novel roles for bacterially derived vitamin K forms known as menaquinones in health and disease, which may be attributable in part to anti-inflammatory effects. However, the relevance of menaquinones produced by gut bacteria to vitamin K requirements and inflammation is undetermined.Objective: This study aimed to quantify fecal menaquinone concentrations and identify associations between fecal menaquinone concentrations and serum vitamin K concentrations, gut microbiota composition, and inflammation.Design: Fecal and serum menaquinone concentrations, fecal microbiota composition, and plasma and fecal cytokine concentrations were measured in 80 men and postmenopausal women (48 men, 32 women, age 40-65 y) enrolled in a randomized, parallel-arm, provided-food trial. After consuming a run-in diet for 2 wk, participants were randomly assigned to consume a whole grain-rich (WG) or a refined grain-based (RG) diet for 6 wk. Outcomes were measured at weeks 2 and 8.Results: The median total daily excretion of menaquinones in feces was 850 nmol/d but was highly variable (range: 64-5358 nmol/d). The total median (IQR) fecal concentrations of menaquinones decreased in the WG diet compared with the RG diet [-6.8 nmol/g (13.0 nmol/g) dry weight for WG compared with 1.8 nmol/g (12.3 nmol/g) dry weight for RG; P < 0.01)]. However, interindividual variability in fecal menaquinone concentrations partitioned individuals into 2 distinct groups based on interindividual differences in concentrations of different menaquinone forms rather than the diet group or the time point. The relative abundances of several gut bacteria taxa, Bacteroides and Prevotella in particular, differed between these groups, and 42% of identified genera were associated with ≥1 menaquinone form. Menaquinones were not detected in serum, and neither fecal concentrations of individual menaquinones nor the menaquinone group was associated with any marker of inflammation.Conclusion: Menaquinone concentrations in the human gut appear highly variable and are associated with gut microbiota composition. However, the health implications remain unclear. This trial was registered at as NCT01902394.


menaquinones; metabolomics; microbiome; phylloquinone; vitamin K; whole grain

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