In Chronic Kidney Disease, vascular calcification (VC) is highly prevalent even at early stages and is gradually enhanced, along with disease progression to End-Stage Renal Disease (ESRD). The calcification pattern in uremia includes all types of mineralization and contributes to the heavy cardiovascular (CV) burden that is common in these patients. Ectopic mineralization is the result of the imbalance between inhibitors and promoters of vascular calcification, with the latter overwhelming the former. The most powerful, natural inhibitor of calcification is Matrix Gla Protein (MGP), a small vitamin K dependent protein, secreted by chondrocytes and vascular smooth muscle cells. In uremia, MGP was reported as the only molecule able to reverse VC by “sweeping” calcium and hydroxyapatite crystals away from the arterial wall. To become biologically active, this protein needs to undergo carboxylation and phosphorylation, reactions highly dependent on vitamin K status. The inactive form of MGP reflects deficiency of vitamin K and has been associated with CV events and mortality in ESRD patients. During the past decade, vitamin K status has emerged as a novel risk factor for vascular calcification and CV disease in various populations, including dialysis patients. This review presents the evidence regarding the association between vitamin K and CV disease in ESRD patients, which are prone to atherosclerosis and atheromatosis.
Keywords: Cardiovascular Disease, Chronic Kidney Disease, End-Stage Renal Disease, Hemodialysis, Matrix Gla Protein, Vascular Calcification, Vitamin K
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