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Ethnic differences in osteocalcin γ-carboxylation, plasma phylloquinone (vitamin K1) and apolipoprotein E genotype

Abstract

Objective: To investigate plasma osteocalcin γ-carboxylation and its relationship to plasma phylloquinone concentration and apolipoprotein E (apoE) genotype in women from three ethnic groups with differing osteoporotic fracture risk.

Design and subjects: Fasted blood samples were collected from postmenopausal Gambian (n=50), British (n=31) and Chinese women (n=23), and 11 premenopausal women in each group from three cross-sectional studies.

Results: After adjustment for total osteocalcin, plasma undercarboxylated osteocalcin (adjusted ucOC) was lowest in Chinese and highest in British women postmenopause (British vs Chinese 103% higher, P<0.0001; Gambian vs Chinese 66% higher, P<0.01). No differences were observed premenopause. Within each ethnic group, adjusted ucOC was similar pre- and postmenopause. Postmenopause, plasma phylloquinone was higher in Chinese women (1.0 ng/ml) than in British (0.31 ng/ml) and Gambian women (0.36 ng/ml) (P<0.0001). Premenopause, plasma phylloquinone was higher in Gambian and Chinese women (0.6 ng/ml) than in British women (0.3 ng/ml; P=0.01). Plasma phylloquinone and adjusted ucOC were inversely related in postmenopausal British women (R2=32.4%; P=0.0008). ApoE4 frequency was Gambian 32.6%, British 13.8% and Chinese 6%. A lower adjusted ucOC was associated with apoE2 genotype in British and Chinese women. Ethnic differences in adjusted ucOC persisted after adjustment for phylloquinone and apoE genotype.

Conclusion: These preliminary data indicate suboptimal vitamin K status in postmenopausal British compared to Chinese and Gambian women. Ethnic differences in apoE genotype may also influence osteocalcin γ-carboxylation status. The study highlights the need for larger epidemiological investigations of ethnic differences in vitamin K status and the possible implications to bone health.

Sponsorship: This work was funded by the MRC.

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Correspondence to A Prentice.

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Guarantor: A Prentice.

Contributors: SB was responsible for manuscript preparation, laboratory analyses, data interpretation and sample collection in UK and Gambia. AP was responsible for supervision, overall coordination of the study and participated in data analysis, interpretation of results and preparation of manuscript. DMS and DJH participated in laboratory analyses. BD coordinated subject recruitment in The Gambia. LY coordinated subject recruitment and sample collection in China. MJS participated in data interpretation and preparation of manuscript.

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Beavan, S., Prentice, A., Stirling, D. et al. Ethnic differences in osteocalcin γ-carboxylation, plasma phylloquinone (vitamin K1) and apolipoprotein E genotype. Eur J Clin Nutr 59, 72–81 (2005). https://doi.org/10.1038/sj.ejcn.1602037

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Keywords

  • apoE genotype
  • ethnic
  • osteoporosis
  • osteocalcin
  • γ-carboxylation
  • vitamin K

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