Discovery of a new function of vitamin K -

How Vitamin K Prevents Cell Death

Vitamin K is best known for its effects on bone health and blood clotting. A recent study has now found that the fully reduced form of vitamin K effectively inhibits a specific form of cell death.

A team led by researchers from the Helmholtz Zentrum München discovered the new, previously unknown function of vitamin K and published their findings in the journal "Nature". The vitamin therefore counteracts the death of ferroptotic cells.

What is ferroptosis?

Ferroptosis is a particular form of cell death that was first scientifically described about ten years ago. It is characterized by so-called iron-dependent lipid peroxidation and plays a key role in organ damage, degenerative diseases and the susceptibility of treatment-resistant cancers, the researchers explain.

In recent years, considerable progress has been made in understanding the relevant molecular processes responsible for ferroptosis. However, according to the researchers, many external and internal cellular processes that determine cell susceptibility to ferroptosis remain unclear.

Use the prevention of ferroptosis for therapeutic purposes?

"Since the prevention of ferroptosis is considered a promising approach for the treatment of many degenerative diseases, new mechanisms and active substances that regulate ferroptosis are the subject of intensive research," reports the Helmholtz Zentrum München in a press release. release of the results of the study.

The research team led by Dr. Eikan Mishima and Dr. Marcus Conrad from the Helmholtz Institute in Munich on metabolism and cell death, in collaboration with researchers from Tohoku University in Japan, the University from Ottawa in Canada and the Technical University of Dresden, has systematically examined a number of natural vitamins and their derivatives.

"Amazingly, we found that vitamin K, including phylloquinone (vitamin K1) and menaquinone-4 (vitamin K2), is able to effectively prevent cell and tissue ferroptosis," reports the first author of the study, Dr. Eikan Mishima.

Powerful antioxidant that prevents cell death

The fully reduced form of vitamin K - called vitamin K hydroquinone - acts as a powerful lipophilic antioxidant and prevents ferroptosis by scavenging oxygen radicals in cell membranes.

The vitamin K reducing enzyme FSP1 (ferroptosis suppressor protein 1) plays an important role in the process. FSP1 has also been shown to be the enzyme that effectively reduces vitamin K to vitamin K hydroquinone, thereby initiating a new, non-canonical vitamin K cycle.

Additionally, FSP1 is responsible for the vitamin K depletion pathway, which is unresponsive to warfarin, one of the most commonly prescribed anticoagulants (anticoagulants), the researchers report.

Unraveling the Identity of the FSP1 Enzyme Solves the Last Mystery of Vitamin K Metabolism in Blood Clotting and Sheds Light on the Molecular Mechanism of Why Vitamin K Acts as an Antidote to Warfarin Overdose

New therapeutic approaches

Cell death in the form of ferroptosis has received increasing attention in recent years as a driving force behind Alzheimer's disease, acute organ damage and many other diseases, and the new study suggests that vitamin K treatment may be an approach to these diseases.

"Our results combine the two scientific fields of research on ferroptosis and vitamin K biology. They thus lay the foundations for the development of new therapeutic strategies for diseases in which ferroptosis plays a role", summarizes Dr. Marc Konrad.

Researchers suspect that vitamin K may be one of the oldest types of natural antioxidants because ferroptosis is most likely one of the oldest forms of cell death. They hope that new aspects of the importance of vitamin K in the evolution of life will now also be revealed. (fp)

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This text corresponds to the specifications of the specialized medical literature, medical guidelines and current studies and has been verified by health professionals.


Eikan Mishima, Junya Ito, Zijun Wu, Toshitaka Nakamura, Adam Wahida, Sebastian Doll, Wulf Tonnus, Palina Nepachalovich, Elke Eggenhofer, Macer Aldrovandi, Bernhard Henkelmann, Ken-ichi Yamada, Jonas Wanninger, Omkar Zilka, Emiko Sato, Regina Feederle, Daniela Hass, Adriano Maida, André Santos Dias Mourão, Andreas Linkermann, Edward K. Geissler, Kiyotaka Nakagawa, Takaaki Abe, Maria Fedorova, Bettina Proneth, Derek A. Pratt, Marcus Conrad: A Non-Canonical Vitamin K Cycle Is Powerful Ferroptosis suppressor; in: Nature (published August 3, 2022), Helmholtz Zentrum München: Vitamin K prevents cell death: researchers discover new function of long-known molecule (published August 3, 2022), helmholtz-munich .of

Important Note:
This article contains general advice only and should not be used for self-diagnosis or treatment. It cannot substitute a visit to the doctor.