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Inactive matrix Gla protein is a novel circulating biomarker predicting retinal arteriolar narrowing in humans

Wei FF, Huang QF, Zhang ZY, Van Keer K, Thijs L, Trenson S, Yang WY, Cauwenberghs N, Mujaj B, Kuznetsova T, Allegaert K, Struijker-Boudier HAJ, Verhamme P, Vermeer C, Staessen JA (2018) Sci Rep. 2018 Oct;8(1): 15088. doi: 10.1038/s41598-018-33257-6. 

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Active matrix Gla protein (MGP), a potent inhibitor of calcification in large arteries, protects against macrovascular complications. Recent studies suggested that active MGP helps maintaining the integrity of the renal and myocardial microcirculation, but its role in preserving the retinal microcirculation remains unknown.

In 935 randomly recruited Flemish participants (mean age, 40.9 years; 50.3% women), we measured plasma desphospho-uncarboxylated MGP (dp-ucMGP), a marker of poor vitamin K status using an ELISA-based assay at baseline (1996-2010) and retinal microvascular diameters using IVAN software (Vasculomatic ala Nicola, version 1.1) including the central retinal arteriolar (CRAE) and venular (CRVE) equivalent and the arteriole-to-venule ratio (AVR) at follow-up (2008-2015). CRAE (P = 0.005) and AVR (P = 0.080) at follow-up decreased across tertiles of the dp-ucMGP distribution. In unadjusted models, for a doubling of dp-ucMGP at baseline, CRAE and AVR at follow-up respectively decreased by 1.40 µm (95% confidence interval [CI], 0.32 to 2.48; P = 0.011) and 0.006 (CI, 0.001 to 0.011; P = 0.016).

In multivariable-adjusted models accounting for sex, baseline characteristics and follow-up duration, these estimates were -1.03 µm (CI, -1.96 to -0.11; P = 0.028) and -0.007 (CI, -0.011 to -0.002; P = 0.007). Additional adjustment for changes from baseline to follow-up in major baseline characteristics yielded as estimates -0.91 µm (CI, -1.82 to -0.01; P = 0.048) and -0.006 (95% CI, -0.011 to -0.001; P = 0.014), respectively. Circulating inactive dp-ucMGP is a long-term predictor of smaller retinal arteriolar diameter in the general population.

Our observations highlight the possibility that vitamin K supplementation might promote retinal health.


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