Vitamin K-antagonists (VKA) are the most widely used anti-thrombotic drugs with substantial efficacy in reducing risk of arterial and venous thrombosis. Several lines of evidence indicate, however, that VKA inhibit not only post-translational activation of vitamin K-dependent coagulation factors but also synthesis of functional extra-hepatic vitamin K-dependent proteins thereby eliciting undesired side-effects. Vascular calcification is one of the recently revealed side-effects of VKA. Vascular calcification is an actively regulated process involving vascular cells and a number of vitamin K-dependent proteins. Mechanistic understanding of vascular calcification is essential to improve VKA-based treatments of both thrombotic disorders and atherosclerosis. This review addresses vitamin K-cycle and vitamin K-dependent processes of vascular calcification that are affected by VKA. We conclude that there is a growing need for better understanding of the effects of anticoagulants on vascular calcification and atherosclerosis.
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