Vitamin K--its essential role in craniofacial development. A review of the literature regarding vitamin K and craniofacial development

Aust Dent J. 1994 Apr;39(2):88-92. doi: 10.1111/j.1834-7819.1994.tb01379.x.


The normal vitamin K status of the human embryo appears to be close to deficiency. Maternal dietary deficiency or use of a number of therapeutic drugs during pregnancy, may result in frank vitamin K deficiency in the embryo. First trimester deficiency results in maxillonasal hypoplasia in the neonate with subsequent facial and orthodontic implications. A rat model of the vitamin K deficiency embryopathy shows that the facial dysmorphology is preceded by uncontrolled calcification in the normally uncalcified nasal septal cartilage, and decreased longitudinal growth of the cartilage, resulting in maxillonasal hypoplasia. The developing septal cartilage is normally rich in the vitamin K-dependent protein matrix gla protein (MGP). It is proposed that functional MGP is necessary to maintain growing cartilage in a non-calcified state. Developing teeth contain both MGP and a second vitamin K-dependent protein, bone gla protein (BGP). It has been postulated that these proteins have a functional role in tooth mineralization. As yet this function has not been established and abnormalities in tooth formation have not been observed under conditions where BGP and MGP should be formed in a non-functional form.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • 1-Carboxyglutamic Acid / physiology
  • Animals
  • Calcium-Binding Proteins / physiology
  • Extracellular Matrix Proteins*
  • Facial Bones / embryology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Osteocalcin / physiology
  • Pregnancy / physiology*
  • Rats
  • Skull / embryology*
  • Vitamin K / physiology*
  • Vitamin K Deficiency / physiopathology


  • Calcium-Binding Proteins
  • Extracellular Matrix Proteins
  • matrix Gla protein
  • Osteocalcin
  • Vitamin K
  • 1-Carboxyglutamic Acid