Exploratory analysis of covariation of microbiota-derived vitamin K and cognition in older adults.Am J Clin Nutr 2019AJ
Vitamin K has multiple important physiological roles, including blood coagulation and beneficial effects on myelin integrity in the brain. Some intestinal microbes possess the genes to produce vitamin K in the form of menaquinone (MK). MK appears in higher concentration in tissues, such as the brain, particularly MK4, than the dietary form of phylloquinone (PK). Lower PK concentrations have been reported in patients with Alzheimer disease while higher serum PK concentrations have been positively associated with verbal episodic memory. Despite knowledge of the importance of vitamin K for various health parameters, few studies have measured MK concentration and biosynthesis by gut commensals.
The aim of the current study was to investigate the relation between genes involved in gut-microbiota derived MK, concentrations of MK isoforms, and cognitive function.
Shotgun metagenomic sequencing of the gut microbiome of 74 elderly individuals with different cognitive ability levels was performed. From this, gene counts for microbial MK biosynthesis were determined. Associations between clusters of individuals, grouped based on a similar presence and prevalence of MK biosynthesis genes, and cognitive ability were investigated. Fecal MK concentrations were quantified by HPLC to investigate correlations with subject clusters.
Separation of subject groups defined by banded quantification of the genetic potential of their microbiome to biosynthesize MK was associated with significant differences in cognitive ability [assessed using the Mini-Mental State Examination (MMSE)]. Three MK isoforms were found to be positively associated with MMSE, along with the identification of key components of the MK pathway that drive this association. Although the causality and direction of these associations remain unknown, these findings justify further studies.
This study provides evidence that although total concentrations of MK did not covary with cognition, certain MK isoforms synthesized by the gut microbiome, particularly the longer chains, are positively associated with cognition.