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Vitamin K catabolite inhibition of ovariectomy-induced bone loss: Structure–activity relationship considerations




The potential benefit of vitamin K as a therapeutic in osteoporosis is controversial and the vitamin K regimen being used clinically (45 mg/day) employs doses that are many times higher than required to ensure maximal gamma-carboxylation of the vitamin K-dependent bone proteins. We therefore tested the hypothesis that vitamin K catabolites, 5-carbon (CAN5C) and 7-carbon carboxylic acid (CAN7C) aliphatic side-chain derivatives of the naphthoquinone moiety exert an osteotrophic role consistent with the treatment of osteoporosis.

Methods and results

Osteoblast-like MG63 cell cultures were challenged with lipopolysaccharide and the levels of interleukin-6, an osteoclastogenic cytokine, measured with and without catabolites; low concentrations of CAN7C significantly inhibited interleukin-6 release, but CAN5C did not. In models of bone loss induced by ovariectomy or sciatic neurectomy in C57BL/6 mice, we found that the rarer CAN7C catabolite markedly restricted ovariectomy-induced bone loss and possibly limited sciatic neurectomy-induced bone loss. CAN7C activity depends on a free carboxylic acid and its particular side-chain structure.


These in vivo data indicate for the first time that the clinical utility of vitamin K for osteoporosis may reside in an unusual catabolite.