Vitamin K deficiency: an emerging player in the pathogenesis of vascular calcification and an iatrogenic consequence of therapies in advanced renal disease.Am J Physiol Renal Physiol. 2020 10 01; 319(4):F618-F623.AJ
Vascular calcification is a known complication of chronic kidney disease (CKD). The prevalence of vascular calcification in patients with non-dialysis-dependent CKD stages 3-5 has been shown to be as high as 79% (20). Vascular calcification has been associated with increased risk for mortality, hospital admissions, and cardiovascular disease (6, 20, 50, 55). Alterations in mineral and bone metabolism play a pivotal role in the pathogenesis of vascular calcification in CKD. As CKD progresses, levels of fibroblast growth factor-23, parathyroid hormone, and serum phosphorus increase and levels of 1,25-(OH)2 vitamin D decrease. These imbalances have been linked to the development of vascular calcification. More recently, additional factors have been found to play a role in vascular calcification. Matrix G1a protein (MGP) in its carboxylated form (cMGP) is a potent inhibitor of vascular calcification. Importantly, carboxylation of MGP is dependent on the cofactor vitamin K. In patients with CKD, vitamin K deficiency is prevalent and is exacerbated by warfarin, which is frequently used for anticoagulation. Insufficient bioavailability of vitamin K reduces the amount of cMGP available, and, therefore, it may lead to increased risk of vascular calcification. In vitro studies have shown that in the setting of a high-phosphate environment and vitamin K antagonism, human aortic valve interstitial cells become calcified. In this article, we discuss the pathophysiological consequence of vitamin K deficiency in the setting of altered mineral and bone metabolism, its prevalence, and clinical implications in patients with CKD.