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Vitamin K-dependent Protein MGP linked to Skin Elastin Calcification in New Study

Morristown, NJ – 16 October 2007 -- PL Thomas announced today that a new study published online in the journal Laboratory Investigation suggests vitamin K plays a vital role in skin and soft tissue health. The study links a vitamin K-dependent protein called matrix GLA protein (MGP) to increased mineralization of elastic fibers in the skin of patients with pseudoxanthoma elasticum, a population subject to severe calcification. These results may also illustrate the need for active MGP in healthy populations with sub-clinical vitamin K deficiency.

Pseudoxanthoma elasticum is a progressive disorder that is characterized by accumulated deposits of calcium (calcification) and other minerals in elastic fibers, which are a component of connective tissue. Calcification can affect elastic fibers in the skin, eyes, and blood vessels, causing decreased blood flow.

Matrix GLA protein (MGP) is the most potent inhibitor of soft tissue calcification known, and it was found that blood levels of MGP in patients with PXE were dramatically lower than normal patients.

According to Leon Schurgers, PhD, one of the authors of the paper, “This patient population provides insight to the role of MGP and calcification – and we hope to apply this knowledge toward therapeutic applications for these patients. In healthy populations with vitamin K deficiency, and thus susceptible for high levels of inactive MGP, excess calcification can become a real health concern, particularly in regard to calcification of the arteries. Unfortunately, the Western diet is likely deficient in adequate vitamin K for these needs.”

The study also examined active vs. inactive MGP content in the skin of PXE patients compared to control patients. Normal elastic fibers in control patients had more abundant active MGP compared to PXE patients. Also, in the PXE patients’ calcified elastic fibers, inactive MGP intensively accumulated with mineral deposits. Finally, examination of cell cultures showed PXE patients produced 30% less active MGP than control patients. These findings demonstrate MGP’s involvement in elastic fiber calcification.

Dr. Schurgers also commented on the need for dietary vitamin K. “Recognizing the need for additional vitamin K in our diets led our group at VitaK, at the University of Maastricht to evaluate the different supplemental sources of vitamin K, including Vitamin K1, vitamin K2 as menaquinone-4, and as menaquinone-7 (MK-7). Due to its good bioactivity in the body, and long half-life in the blood, MK-7 is the obvious choice for enrichment of dietary supplements and functional foods.”

The benefits of vitamin K for cardiovascular health are tied to its role activating MGP, the most potent inhibitor of vascular calcification known. This role gained attention by the findings of a study published in the Journal of Nutrition called the “Rotterdam Study” in 2004, involving over 4,800 people over a ten year period. The study found increased intake of specifically natural vitamin K2 significantly reduced the risk of CHD mortality by 50% as compared to low dietary vitamin K2 intake. In this study, vitamin K1 had no effect at al.

Natural vitamin K2 is found in fermented foods like cheese and curd, and in particularly high levels in the Japanese fermented soy-food called Natto.

For more information, contact Eric Anderson at 973-984-0900, x215 or email

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PLT offers a natural vitamin K2 as menaquinone-7 under the tradename MenaQ7 in alliance with Natto Pharma, Norway.

About MenaQ7
MenaQ7 provides Natural Vitamin K2 as an extract of natto, a fermented soy food from Japan. Natto is particularly rich in the highly bio-available form of vitamin K2 called menaquinone-7 (MK-7). MenaQ7 provides guaranteed actives and stability, clinical substantiation and international patents awarded and pending.

About PL Thomas
PL Thomas, a New Jersey-based ingredient supplier, offers fifty years of innovation in securing reliable, high quality raw materials for the food/functional food and nutrition industries. PLT is a one-stop resource for application solutions, current industry information and technical service, and specializes in water-soluble gums and clinically-supported botanical extracts.

About Natto Pharma
NattoPharma, Norway is the exclusive international supplier of MenaQ7 natural Vitamin K2. NattoPharma has entered into a multi-year Research and Development program to substantiate and discover the health benefits of natural vitamin K2 for applications in the exciting marketplace for functional food and health food supplements.

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