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Front. Neurol. | doi: 10.3389/fneur.2019.00239

THE RELATIONSHIPS BETWEEN VITAMIN K AND COGNITION: A REVIEW OF CURRENT EVIDENCE

  • 1Dipartimento di Biotecnologie Cellulari ed Ematologia, Università degli Studi di Roma La Sapienza, Italy
  • 2Department of Human Neurosciences, Sapienza University of Rome, Italy
  • 3Dipartimento Organi di Senso, Sapienza Università di Roma, Italy

Vitamin K is a fat-soluble nutrient discovered in 1935 and its role in blood coagulation has been thoroughly explored. In recent years, studies conducted in vitro and on animals highlighted vitamin K involvement in brain cells development and survival. In particular, vitamin K seems to have an antiapoptotic and anti-inflammatory effect mediated by the activation of Growth Arrest Specific Gene 6 and Protein S. Moreover, this vitamin is involved in sphingolipids metabolism, a class of lipids that participate in the proliferation, differentiation and survival of brain cells. An altered expression in sphingolipids profile has been related to neuroinflammation and neurodegeneration.
This review stems from a growing interest in the role of vitamin K in brain functions, especially in cognition, also in view of an expected increase of prevalence of Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia. It collects recent researches that show interesting, even though not definitive, evidence of a direct correlation between vitamin K levels and cognitive performance. Moreover, vitamin K antagonists, used worldwide as oral anticoagulants, according to recent studies may have a negative influence on cognitive domains such as visual memory, verbal fluency and brain volume. The aim of this review is to analyze the evidence of clinical studies carried out up to date on the relationship between vitamin K intake and cognitive performances. The involvement of vitamin K antagonists (VKAs) in declining cognitive performances is also addressed separately.

Keywords: Vitamin K, phylloquinone, cognitive impaiment, Vitamin K antagonist (VKA), Warfarin

Received: 30 Jul 2018; Accepted: 22 Feb 2019.

Edited by:

Matilde Inglese, Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, United States

Reviewed by:

Marta Maschio, Istituto Nazionale del Cancro Regina Elena, Italy
Maria M. Filippi, Fatebenefratelli Foundation for Health Research and Education, Italy  

Copyright: © 2019 Alisi, Cao, De Angelis, Cafolla, Caramia, Cartocci, Librando and Fiorelli. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY). The use, distribution or reproduction in other forums is permitted, provided the original author(s) and the copyright owner(s) are credited and that the original publication in this journal is cited, in accordance with accepted academic practice. No use, distribution or reproduction is permitted which does not comply with these terms.

* Correspondence: MD, PhD. Marco Fiorelli, Department of Human Neurosciences, Sapienza University of Rome, Rome, 00185, Lazio, Italy, marco.fiorelli@uniroma1.it