The incidence of Alzheimer's disease (AD) increases with age and in carriers of the apolipoprotein E4 genotype. A relative deficiency of vitamin K, affecting the extrahepatic functions of the vitamin, is common in ageing men and women. The concentration of vitamin K is lower in the circulating blood of APOE4 carriers than in that of persons with other APOE genotypes. Evidence is accumulating that vitamin K has important functions in the brain, including the regulation of sulfotransferase activity and the activity of a growth factor/tyrosine kinase receptor (Gas 6/Axl). The hypothesis is now proposed that vitamin K deficiency contributes to the pathogenesis of AD and that vitamin K supplementation may have a beneficial effect in preventing or treating the disease. Vitamin K may also reduce neuronal damage associated with cardiovascular disease.
Copyright 2001 Harcourt Publishers Ltd.