[Vitamin K metabolism. Menaquinone-4 (MK-4) formation from ingested VK analogues and its potent relation to bone function]

Clin Calcium. 2007 Nov;17(11):1663-72.
[Article in Japanese]


Phylloquinone (vitamin K(1) = VK(1)) and the menaquinones (MK-n, or vitamin K(2) = VK(2)) are naturally occurring forms of VK. Most of the menaquinone series are synthesized by microorganisms, but we have reported that MK-4 is usual in being synthesized by the conversion of orally ingested VK(1) or MK-n in the major tissues of germfree rats and mice which lack their intestinal microflora. This result led us to deny 1960's Martius' hypothesis that described the participation of bacterial enzyme of the intestinal flora to this conversion. VK acts as a cofactor in the posttranslational synthesis of gamma-carboxyglutamic acid (Gla) from glutamic acid (Glu) residues in the nascent Gla-protein molecule. Therefore, VK is essential for blood coagulation (various clotting factors) and bone structure (as osteocalcin [OC = BGP] and matrix Gla-protein [MGP] in mammals. In addition to the liver, VK is found in the bone, brain, heart, testis, kidney, pancreas and salivary glands mainly as MK-4, and it has been reported that MK-4 itself has specific biological activities in these tissues beside Gla-protein formation. However, the physiological role of MK-4 in these organs has not been fully understood yet. Recently MK-4 has been attracted the attention of researchers due to its activities such as apoptotic activity on the osteoclast cells and leukemia cells, SXR/PXR ligand, and so on. We further review the potent important physiological role of MK-4 in the bone as well as other major tissues.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Apoptosis
  • Blood Coagulation
  • Bone and Bones / metabolism*
  • Humans
  • Intestinal Absorption
  • Ligands
  • Mice
  • Osteocalcin / metabolism
  • Osteoclasts / cytology
  • Pregnane X Receptor
  • Protein Processing, Post-Translational
  • Rats
  • Receptors, Steroid
  • Vitamin K / analogs & derivatives*
  • Vitamin K / metabolism*
  • Vitamin K / physiology
  • Vitamin K 2 / analogs & derivatives*
  • Vitamin K 2 / metabolism


  • Ligands
  • Pregnane X Receptor
  • Receptors, Steroid
  • Osteocalcin
  • Vitamin K 2
  • Vitamin K
  • menatetrenone