Vitamin K supplementation for the primary prevention of osteoporotic fractures: is it cost-effective and is future research warranted?
Lifetime supplementation with vitamin K, vitamin D(3), and calcium is likely to reduce fractures and increase survival in postmenopausal women. It would be a cost-effective intervention at commonly used thresholds, but high uncertainty around the cost-effectiveness estimates persists. Further research on the effect of vitamin K on fractures is warranted.
Vitamin K might have a role in the primary prevention of fractures, but uncertainties about its effectiveness and cost-effectiveness persist.
We developed a state-transition probabilistic microsimulation model to quantify the cost-effectiveness of various interventions to prevent fractures in 50-year-old postmenopausal women without osteoporosis. We compared no supplementation, vitamin D(3) (800 IU/day) with calcium (1,200 mg/day), and vitamin K(2) (45 mg/day) with vitamin D(3) and calcium (at the same doses). An additional analysis explored replacing vitamin K(2) with vitamin K(1) (5 mg/day).
Adding vitamin K(2) to vitamin D(3) with calcium reduced the lifetime probability of at least one fracture by 25%, increased discounted survival by 0.7 quality-adjusted life-years (QALYs) (95% credible interval (CrI) 0.2; 1.3) and discounted costs by $8,956, yielding an incremental cost-effectiveness ratio (ICER) of $12,268/QALY. At a $50,000/QALY threshold, the probability of cost-effectiveness was 95% and the population expected value of perfect information (EVPI) was $28.9 billion. Adding vitamin K(1) to vitamin D and calcium reduced the lifetime probability of at least one fracture by 20%, increased discounted survival by 0.4 QALYs (95% CrI -1.9; 1.4) and discounted costs by $4,014, yielding an ICER of $9,557/QALY. At a $50,000/QALY threshold, the probability of cost-effectiveness was 80% while the EVPI was $414.9 billion. The efficacy of vitamin K was the most important parameter in sensitivity analyses.
Lifetime supplementation with vitamin K, vitamin D(3), and calcium is likely to reduce fractures and increase survival in postmenopausal women. Given high uncertainty around the cost-effectiveness estimates, further research on the efficacy of vitamin K on fractures is warranted.
Gajic-Veljanoski O, Bayoumi AM, Tomlinson G, Khan K…
Osteoporos Int Nov 2012
Vitamin k2 therapy for postmenopausal osteoporosis.
Vitamin K may play an important role in the prevention of fractures in postmenopausal women with osteoporosis. Menatetrenone is the brand name of a synthetic vitamin K2 that is chemically identical to menaquinone-4. The present review study aimed to clarify the effect of menatetrenone on the skeleton in postmenopausal women with osteoporosis, by reviewing the results of randomized controlled trials (RCTs) in the literature. RCTs that investigated the effect of menatetrenone on bone mineral density (BMD), measured by dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry and fracture incidence in postmenopausal women with osteoporosis, were identified by a PubMed search for literature published in English. Eight studies met the criteria for RCTs. Small RCTs showed that menatetrenone monotherapy decreased serum undercarboxylated osteocalcin (ucOC) concentrations, modestly increased lumbar spine BMD, and reduced the incidence of fractures (mainly vertebral fracture), and that combined alendronate and menatetrenone therapy enhanced the decrease in serum ucOC concentrations and further increased femoral neck BMD. This review of the literature revealed positive evidence for the effects of menatetrenone monotherapy on fracture incidence in postmenopausal women with osteoporosis. Further studies are required to clarify the efficacy of menatetrenone in combination with bisphosphonates against fractures in postmenopausal women with osteoporosis.
PMID: 24841104 | Free Full Text
One interesting passage from the full text talks about the unpublished dose range study from Japan:
Orimo, H., et al. “Clinical evaluation of soft capsule menatetrenone (Ea-0167) in the treatment of osteoporosis: late phase II dose study.” J New Remedies Clinics 41 (1992): 1249-79.
A dose-finding study of menatetrenone in Japan  administered daily doses of 15, 45, 90, and 135 mg and revealed that 45 mg was the minimum effective dose for improving bone mass parameters evaluated by microdensitometry and/or single photon absorptiometry in postmenopausal women with osteoporosis. This optimal dose (45 mg/day) for the treatment of osteoporosis is about 150–180 times greater than the recommended daily dietary intake of vitamin K (250–300 μg) . No toxic effects of menatetrenone (45 mg/day) have been reported . High-dose vitamin K is needed to prevent fractures in postmenopausal women with osteoporosis . However, the effect of menatetrenone on the skeleton remains a matter of controversy [10–17], and the role of menatetrenone in the treatment of osteoporosis therefore needs to be clarified.
Vitamin K supplementation does not prevent bone loss in ovariectomized Norway rats.
Despite plausible biological mechanisms, the differential abilities of phylloquinone (PK) and menaquinones (MKn) to prevent bone loss remain controversial. The objective of the current study was to compare the effects of PK, menaquinone-4 (MK-4) and menaquinone-7 (MK-7) on the rate of bone loss in ovariectomized (OVX) Norway rats. A secondary aim was to compare the effects of vitamin K with those of bisphosphonates (BP) on bone loss.
Rats (n = 96) were randomized to 6 dosing groups [n = 16/group; Sham; OVX; OVX + BP (100 μg/kg/100 μg/mL saline sc); OVX + PK; OVX + MK-4; and OVX + MK-7] for 6 wk. Equimolar daily doses of 107 mg PK/kg, 147 mg MK-4/kg, and 201 mg MK-7/kg diet were provided.
BP significantly increased bone strength and bone mineral density (BMD) vs. OVX (P < 0.05). However, PK, MK-4 or MK-7 did not change bone strength or BMD compared to the OVX group. Whereas supplementation of PK, MK-4 and MK-7 increased serum and tibia concentrations of each respective form, PK concentrations were consistently higher despite equimolar intakes.
PK, MK-4, and MK-7 do not appear to prevent bone loss in OVX rats when administered concurrent with adequate intake of other nutrients.
Fu X, Moreines J, Booth SL
Nutr Metab (Lond) 2012
PMID: 22348311 | Free Full Text
In conclusion, supplementation of PK, MK-4 or MK-7 did not confer a beneficial effect on bone loss in ovariectomized Norway rats fed a diet that meets nutritional requirements for other nutrients, including calcium and vitamin D. This would suggest that equivocal findings in the literature regarding the effect of various forms of vitamin K on bone cannot be attributed to differences among the forms studied. These data are also consistent with a growing number of clinical studies that report no beneficial effect of vitamin K supplementation on bone loss in the elderly who are otherwise calcium and vitamin D-replete [1,18,19].
Menatetrenone versus alfacalcidol in the treatment of Chinese postmenopausal women with osteoporosis: a multicenter, randomized, double-blinded, double-dummy, positive drug-controlled clinical trial.
To evaluate whether the efficacy and safety of menatetrenone for the treatment of osteoporosis is noninferior to alfacalcidol in Chinese postmenopausal women.
This multicenter, randomized, double-blinded, double-dummy, noninferiority, positive drug-controlled clinical trial was conducted in five Chinese sites. Eligible Chinese women with postmenopausal osteoporosis (N=236) were randomized to Group M or Group A and received menatetrenone 45 mg/day or alfacalcidol 0.5 μg/day, respectively, for 1 year. Additionally, all patients received calcium 500 mg/day. Posttreatment bone mineral density (BMD), new fracture onsets, and serum osteocalcin (OC) and undercarboxylated OC (ucOC) levels were compared with the baseline value in patients of both groups.
A total of 213 patients (90.3%) completed the study. After 1 year of treatment, BMD among patients in Group M significantly increased from baseline by 1.2% and 2.7% at the lumbar spine and trochanter, respectively (P<0.001); and the percentage increase of BMD in Group A was 2.2% and 1.8%, respectively (P<0.001). No difference was observed between groups. There were no changes in femoral neck BMD in both groups. Two patients (1.9%, 2/108) in Group M and four patients (3.8%, 4/105) in Group A had new fracture onsets (P>0.05). In Group M, OC and ucOC decreased from baseline by 38.7% and 82.3%, respectively (P<0.001). In Group A, OC and ucOC decreased by 25.8% and 34.8%, respectively (P<0.001). Decreases in serum OC and ucOC were more obvious in Group M than in Group A (P<0.001). The safety profile of menatetrenone was similar to alfacalcidol.
Menatetrenone is an effective and safe choice in the treatment of postmenopausal osteoporosis in Chinese women.
Jiang Y, Zhang ZL, Zhang ZL, Zhu HM…
Clin Interv Aging 2014
PMID: 24426779 | Free Full Text
Menatetrenone inhibits bone resorption partly through inhibition of PGE2 synthesis in vitro.
We studied the effect of menatetrenone, a vitamin K2 homolog, on bone resorption stimulated by interleukin-1 alpha (IL-1 alpha), prostaglandin E2 (PGE2), parathyroid hormone (PTH), and 1,25-dihydroxyvitamin D3 [1,25-(OH)2D3]. Bone-resorbing activity was assessed by measurement of calcium and hydroxyproline in the media and calvariae. IL-1 alpha (0.1-100 U/ml), 1,25-(OH)2D3 (10(-10)-10(-7) M), PGE2 (10(-9)-10(-6) M), and PTH (3 x 10(-8)-3 x 10(-7) M) dose dependently increased the levels of calcium and hydroxyproline in the medium. Indomethacin (10(-6) M) completely inhibited bone resorption induced by IL-1 alpha and partially inhibited bone resorption induced by 1,25-(OH)2D3. However, indomethacin did not affect the action of PGE2 or PTH. Menatetrenone (3 x 10(-6)-3 x 10(-5) M) inhibited the bone resorption induced by IL-1 alpha (2 U/ml), PGE2 (10(-7) M), PTH (3 x 10(-7) M), and 1,25-(OH)2D3 (3 x 10(-10) M) in a dose-dependent manner. Menatetrenone also inhibited the PGE2 production stimulated by IL-1 alpha. These results indicate that menatetrenone may inhibit bone resorption through at least two different mechanisms; one possibly is an inhibitory effect on prostaglandin production.
Hara K, Akiyama Y, Tajima T, Shiraki M
J. Bone Miner. Res. May 1993
Beyond deficiency: potential benefits of increased intakes of vitamin K for bone and vascular health.
Vitamin K is well known for its role in the synthesis of a number of blood coagulation factors. During recent years vitamin K-dependent proteins were discovered to be of vital importance for bone and vascular health. Recommendations for dietary vitamin K intake have been made on the basis of the hepatic requirements for the synthesis of blood coagulation factors. Accumulating evidence suggests that the requirements for other functions than blood coagulation may be higher. This paper is the result of a closed workshop (Paris, November 2002) in which a number of European vitamin K experts reviewed the available data and formulated their standpoint with respect to recommended dietary vitamin K intake and the use of vitamin K-containing supplements.
Vermeer C, Shearer MJ, Zittermann A, Bolton-Smith C…
Eur J Nutr Dec 2004
PMID: 15309455 | Free Full Text
Accumulating evidence suggests that in many aspects arterial calcification mimics bone formation, which prompts interest in the effects of vitamin K on the vasculature. Previous population-based studies reported a significant reduction in aortic calcification with high vitamin K1  and vitamin K2 intake , and a significant inverse correlation was found between vitamin K2 intake, and the incidence of both ischaemic heart disease and cardiovascular mortality . Based on these findings the effect of treatment on arterial characteristics was monitored in the Maastricht osteostudy. These unpublished findings clearly demonstrated that supplementation with vitamin K1 can protect against vascular hardening and loss of arterial elasticity. High dose MK-4 also seems to have cholesterol lowering properties as shown in studies in rabbits  and humans .
Extremely high doses (45–90mg/day) of MK-4 have been used for the treatment of postmenopausal osteoporosis in Japan for several years [66, 67]. After the positive outcomes of the first clinical trials, the treatment is now used on a large scale; thus far, no adverse side-effects have been reported. A number of independent groups have claimed that this medication results in complete prevention of further bone loss in postmenopausal women, and in some women even a significant gain in BMD [68, 69]. The treatment was also reported to be successful in other groups at risk for bone loss such as haemodialysis patients and those treated with corticosteroids.
In considering the potential efficacy of pharmacological doses of MK-4 it should be noted that there is evidence for a secondary function of this analogue over and above its role in glutamate carboxylation. The available evidence (mainly from cell culture experiments) suggests that MK-4 (but not K1) may also be associated with production of interleukin-6, regulate the synthesis of PGE2 , or inhibit the mevalonate pathway in a comparable way to bisphosphonates , but at present only preliminary data exist.
Any risks associated with relatively high consumption of either K1 or K2 appear minimal, with intakes up to 1 mg/d K1 and 45 mg/d MK-4 often having been used without observed adverse events. Two possible exceptions exist. Firstly a potential problem relates to interference with oral anticoagulants. However, a systematic dose-response study among subjects on oral anticoagulant treatment demonstrated that the stability of anticoagulation was not significantly affected by vitamin K supplements at doses below 100 μg/day . Secondly, preliminary studies have suggested that high vitamin K1 supplementation (i. e. above 1 mg/day) can contribute to periodontal disease via a bacterial mechanism on gingival tissue (S. Hodges, unpublished data).
Glakay is the trade name for the prescription Vitamin K2 (MK-4) treatment for osteoporosis in Japan. It is manufactured by Eisai Co. It was approved in 2005 by the Japanese Ministry of Health & Welfare which is the equivalent of the FDA in Japan.
Glakay is 15mg MK-4 taken 3 times per day. The total dose is 45mg per day.
2005 Glakay Press Release
Glakay Package Insert
Vitamin K treatment reduces undercarboxylated osteocalcin but does not alter bone turnover, density, or geometry in healthy postmenopausal North American women.
Low vitamin K status is associated with low BMD and increased fracture risk. Additionally, a specific menaquinone, menatetrenone (MK4), may reduce fracture risk. However, whether vitamin K plays a role in the skeletal health of North American women remains unclear. Moreover, various K vitamers (e.g., phylloquinone and MK4) may have differing skeletal effects. The objective of this study was to evaluate the impact of phylloquinone or MK4 treatment on markers of skeletal turnover and BMD in nonosteoporotic, postmenopausal, North American women. In this double-blind, placebo-controlled study, 381 postmenopausal women received phylloquinone (1 mg daily), MK4 (45 mg daily), or placebo for 12 mo. All participants received daily calcium and vitamin D(3) supplementation. Serum bone-specific alkaline phosphatase (BSALP) and n-telopeptide of type 1 collagen (NTX) were measured at baseline and 1, 3, 6, and 12 mo. Lumbar spine and proximal femur BMD and proximal femur geometry were measured by DXA at baseline and 6 and 12 mo. At baseline, the three treatment groups did not differ in demographics or study endpoints. Compliance with calcium, phylloquinone, and MK4 treatment was 93%, 93%, and 87%, respectively. Phylloquinone and MK4 treatment reduced serum undercarboxylated osteocalcin but did not alter BSALP or NTX. No effect of phylloquinone or MK4 on lumbar spine or proximal femur BMD or proximal femur geometric parameters was observed. This study does not support a role for vitamin K supplementation in osteoporosis prevention among healthy, postmenopausal, North American women receiving calcium and vitamin D supplementation.
Binkley N, Harke J, Krueger D, Engelke J…
J. Bone Miner. Res. Jun 2009
PMID: 19113922 | Free Full Text
Vitamin K2 stimulates osteoblastogenesis and suppresses osteoclastogenesis by suppressing NF-κB activation.
Several bone protective factors are reported to exhibit stimulatory activities on bone formation coupled with inhibitory effects on bone resorption; one such factor is vitamin K2. Vitamin K species [K1 (phylloquinone) and K2 (menaquinone)] have long been associated with bone protective activities and are receiving intense interest as nutritional supplements for the prevention or amelioration of bone disease in humans. However, the mechanisms of vitamin K action on the skeleton are poorly defined. Activation of the nuclear factor κB (NF-κB) signal transduction pathway is essential for osteoclast formation and resorption. By contrast, NF-κB signaling potently antagonizes osteoblast differentiation and function, prompting us to speculate that NF-κB antagonists may represent a novel class of dual anti-catabolic and pro-anabolic agents. We now show that vitamin K2 action on osteoblast and osteoclast formation and activity is accomplished by down-regulating basal and cytokine-induced NF-κB activation, by increasing IκB mRNA, in a γ-carboxylation-independent manner. Furthermore, vitamin K2 prevented repression by tumor necrosis factor α (TNFα) of SMAD signaling induced by either transforming growth factor ß (TGFß) or bone morphogenetic protein-2 (BMP-2). Vitamin K2 further antagonized receptor activator of NF-κB (RANK) ligand (RANKL)-induced NF-κB activation in osteoclast precursors. Our data provide a novel mechanism to explain the dual pro-anabolic and anti-catabolic activities of vitamin K2, and may further support the concept that pharmacological modulation of NF-κB signal transduction may constitute an effective mechanism for ameliorating pathological bone loss and for promoting bone health.
Yamaguchi M, Weitzmann MN
Int. J. Mol. Med. Jan 2011
Vitamin K to prevent fractures in older women: systematic review and economic evaluation.
To determine the clinical and cost-effectiveness of vitamin K in preventing osteoporotic fractures in postmenopausal women.
Searches were conducted in May 2007 in MEDLINE, MEDLINE In-Process, EMBASE, Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews, Cochrane Controlled Trials Register, BIOSIS, CINAHL, DARE, NHS EED and HTA databases, AMED, NRR, Science Citation Index and Current Controlled Trials. The MEDLINE search was updated in March 2009.
Selected studies were assessed and subjected to data extraction and quality assessment using standard methods. Where appropriate, meta-analysis was carried out. A mathematical model was constructed to estimate the cost-effectiveness of vitamin K1.
The electronic literature searches identified 1078 potentially relevant articles. Of these, 14 articles relating to five trials that compared vitamin K with a relevant comparator in postmenopausal women with osteoporosis or osteopenia met the review inclusion criteria. The double-blind ECKO trial compared 5 mg of phylloquinone (vitamin K1) with placebo in Canadian women with osteopenia but without osteoporosis. Four open-label trials used 45 mg of menatetrenone (vitamin K2) in Japanese women with osteoporosis; the comparators were no treatment, etidronate or calcium. The methodological quality of the ECKO trial was good; however, all four menatetrenone trials were poorly reported and three were very small (n < 100 in each group). Phylloquinone was associated with a statistically significant reduction in the risk of clinical fractures relative to placebo [relative risk 0.46, 95% confidence interval (CI) 0.22 to 0.99]; morphometric vertebral fractures were not reported. The smaller menatetrenone trials found that menatetrenone was associated with a reduced risk of morphometric vertebral fractures relative to no treatment or calcium; however, the larger Osteoporosis Fracture (OF) study found no evidence of a reduction in vertebral fracture risk. The three smaller trials found no significant difference between treatment groups in non-vertebral fracture incidence. In the ECKO trial, phylloquinone was not associated with an increase in adverse events. In the menatetrenone trials, adverse event reporting was generally poor; however, in the OF study, menatetrenone was associated with a significantly higher incidence of skin and skin appendage lesions. No published economic evaluations of vitamin K were found and a mathematical model was thus constructed to estimate the cost-effectiveness of vitamin K1. Comparators were alendronate, risedronate and strontium ranelate. Vitamin K1 and alendronate were markedly more cost-effective than either risedronate or strontium ranelate. The base-case results favoured vitamin K1, but this relied on many assumptions, particularly on the efficacy of preventing hip and vertebral fractures. Calculation of the expected value of sampled information was conducted assuming a randomised controlled trial of 5 years’ duration comparing alendronate with vitamin K1. The costs incurred in obtaining updated efficacy data from a trial with 2000 women per arm were estimated to be a cost-effective use of resources.
There is currently large uncertainty over whether vitamin K1 is more cost-effective than alendronate; further research is required. It is unlikely that the present prescribing policy (i.e. alendronate as first-line treatment) would be altered.
Stevenson M, Lloyd-Jones M, Papaioannou D
Health Technol Assess Sep 2009
PMID: 19818211 | Free Full Text
This is a huge 158 page report. The reason they used K1 instead of K2 was:Vitamin K to prevent fractures in older women: systematic review and economic evaluation
No formal evaluation of vitamin K2 has been undertaken for a number of reasons. This intervention is currently not permitted as a food supplement in the EU because there is no evidence for its independent role in health26 and the price of the intervention is unknown. Additionally, the fracture efficacy data have wide confidence intervals, all of which spanned unity, and the only large (n > 1500 patients per arm) RCT reported a RR of 1.01 for vitamin K2 compared with calcium or no active intervention.