Attention, IBD Sufferers: Early Evidence Shows Vitamin K2 Can Help

Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) comprises chronic relapsing and remitting disorders of the digestive tract, including Crohn’s disease (CD) and ulcerative colitis (UC). Although the pathophysiology of IBD has yet to be determined, recent studies have suggested that IBD is induced by impaired homeostasis of innate or adaptive immune responses in the intestine.

Patients with inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) often exhibit vitamin K deficiency. Metabolic bone diseases, including osteopenia and osteoporosis, are frequently associated with IBD. Vitamin K has been shown to inhibit inflammation via interleukin (IL)-6 suppression, so researchers conducted a mouse study to evaluate the effect of vitamin K on colitis.

Colitis was induced using dextran sulfate sodium (DSS) in mice fed either a vitamin K-deficient (Kdef) or a vitamin K-supplemented (K-sup) diet. The clinical and histological severity of colitis was assessed, and levels of cytokine production were measured by enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay and quantitative real-time reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction. Cytokine expression levels in CD4+, CD11b+, and CD19+ cells in the presence and absence of vitamin K [menatetrenone (MK-4)] were measured in vitro and apoptosis was determined.

The results showed significantly more severe body weight loss, shorter colon length, and higher histological scores in mice fed a K-def diet than those fed a K-sup diet. IL-6 expression in lamina propria mononuclear cells was significantly higher in the K-def group than in the K-sup group. IL-6 expression was significantly decreased in the presence of MK-4 in CD19+ cells, but not in the CD4+ and CD11b+ subpopulations. Apoptotic cell population in CD19+ cells was increased in the presence of MK-4 in vitro and in vivo.

The researchers concluded that vitamin K exerts a protective effect against DSS colitis; this effect is associated with IL-6 downregulation. Therefore, vitamin K could be a potential treatment target for IBD.

“IBD is a painful and difficult condition that affects approximately 1.6 million Americans, with as many as 70,000 new cases of IBD diagnosed in the United States each year,” said Dr. Katarzyna Maresz, president of the International Science and Health Foundation “While this is an early study of this benefit, it is a necessary and positive step before moving over to human clinical trials. And this positive evidence gives us hope that Vitamin K2 could be an effective potential treatment to bring sufferers relief.”


Shiraishi E, Iijima Ha, Shinzaki S, Nakajima S, Inoue T, Hiyama S, Kawai S, Araki M, Yamaguchi T, Hayashi Y, Fujii H, Nishida T, Tsujii M, Takehara T. Vitamin K deficiency leads to exacerbation of murine dextran sulfate sodium-induced colitis. J Gastroenterol. 2015 Aug 28. [Epub ahead of print]

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