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Vitamin K protects cells from death

Vitamin K protects cells from death

Vitamin K acts as a powerful antioxidant and protects cells from one type of natural death. This discovery could contribute to better treatment of various types of degenerative diseases.

Researchers from the Helmholtz Center in Munich (Germany), in the journal “Nature” ( 05022-3) report on an important discovery about vitamin K.

Virosis is a type of natural cell death in which iron ions play an important role as a result of oxidative damage to cell membranes. Although it is a natural process, in recent years it has been associated, among other things, with the development of Alzheimer’s disease and organ damage. Therefore, virus inhibition is a promising approach in treating various types of degenerative diseases. Extensive research has already been done on the different substances that can affect the iron virus.

The German team, together with colleagues from other centers from different countries, has systematically examined the effects of natural vitamins and their derivatives in this field. Dr Ikan Mishima, one of the study’s lead authors, said: “Surprisingly, we found that vitamin K, including phylloquinone (vitamin K1) and menaquinone-4 (vitamin K2), can efficiently protect cells from virus infection. It turns out that vitamin K traps oxygen radicals within the double cell membrane, making their destructive task difficult.

This is not the end of the discoveries. In 2019, Dr. Marcus Konrad, who leads the current study, and his team identified a specific enzyme (FSP1) that also strongly inhibits virus infection. It turns out that it converts vitamin K into a form that protects cells from death.

The researchers also better understood the relationship between vitamin K and the anticoagulant drug warfarin. This substance, as is already known, prevents the formation of the active form of the vitamin. Meanwhile, as it turned out, its formation is enhanced by the mentioned enzyme. “Our results bring together two worlds – research into viral disease and the biology of vitamin K,” said Dr. Konrad. “They will serve as a stepping stone for the development of new treatment strategies where hepatitis C plays a role.”

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At the same time, since viremia is one of the oldest types of cell death, scientists believe that vitamin K may be one of the oldest antioxidants. “So we can expect to reveal the previously unknown importance of vitamin K for the evolution of life” – the researcher believes.

Marek Matakz

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