Animal Study Shows Potential for K2 in Kidney Disease

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Oslo, Norway and East Brunswick, NJ—An experimental animal model of kidney failure has shown that vitamin K2 combined with phosphate binders (PBs) could potentially be a useful therapy for chronic kidney disease (CKD) patients.

The study used MenaQ7 K2 as MK-7, provided by NattoPharma—Gnosis by Lesaffre.

The paper was published in Nephrology, Dialysis, Transplantation, co-authored by Professor Leon Schurgers, Professor of Biochemistry of Vascular Calcification and Vice-Chair of Biochemistry at the Cardiovascular Research Institute Maastricht (CARIM), Maastricht University.

“CKD patients often express intense vascular calcification as a symptom of their condition,” explained Professor Schurgers in the press release. “People with chronic kidney failure are often prescribed phosphate binders to reduce the absorption of dietary phosphate, to lower their serum phosphate which is a major risk factor for vascular calcification. However, PBs also bind vitamin K, thereby potentially aggravating vitamin K deficiency. This vitamin K binding by PBs may offset beneficial effects of phosphate level reduction on reducing vascular calcification. With this study, we wanted to assess whether combining PBs with K2 supplementation inhibited vascular calcification.”

In this experimental animal model, researchers induced K deficiency in rats, and then fed them a high phosphate diet in the presence of low or high vitamin K2. The animals were randomized to either control or one of four different phosphate binders for eight weeks. K status was measured by plasma MK7 levels, and was immunohistochemically analyzed in vasculature using ucMGP-specific antibodies.

The findings: The combination of a high-K2 diet and PB treatment significantly reduced vascular calcification as measured by u-CT compared to MK7 or PB treatment alone. Moreover, high-K2 diet and PB treatment led to reduced vascular oxidative stress. The authors conclude: “In an animal model of kidney failure with vitamin K-deficiency, neither phosphate binder therapy nor vitamin K2 supplementation alone prevented VC. However, the combination of high vitamin K2 with PB treatment significantly attenuated VC. Our findings might provide a combination therapy to combat VC in CKD. These findings should be translated to human research.”

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Dr. Hogne Vik, Chief Medical Officer with NattoPharma, commented in the press release: “While this is early research, it is still significant in furthering our understanding of the K2 mechanism and its potential for improving cardiovascular health for the global population, but specifically at-risk populations like those suffering from CKD. K2 is the only known compound to date shown to impact vascular calcification. We are proud to continue driving our understanding of Vitamin K2, building on the already substantial body of evidence showing it is a safe and effective cardiovascular protector.”