Dietary vitamin K is remodeled by gut microbiota and influences community composition

Jessie L. Ellis, J. Philip Karl, Angela M. Oliverio, Xueyan Fu, Jason W. Soares, Benjamin E. Wolfe, Christopher J. Hernandez, Joel B. Mason, Sarah L. Booth

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

53 Scopus citations


Vitamins have well-established roles in bacterial metabolism. Menaquinones (MKn, n = prenyl units in sidechain) are bacterially produced forms of vitamin K produced by the gut microbiota and consumed in the diet. Little is known about the influence of dietary vitamin K quinones on gut microbial composition and MKn production. Here, male and female C57BL6 mice were fed a vitamin K deficient diet or vitamin K sufficient diets containing phylloquinone (PK, plant-based vitamin K form), MK4, and/or MK9. DNA was extracted from cecal contents and 16S sequencing conducted to assess microbial composition. Cecal microbial community composition was significantly different in vitamin K deficient female mice compared to females on vitamin K sufficient diets (all p < .007). Parallel trends were seen in male mice, but were not statistically significant (all p > .05 but <0.1). Next, stable isotope-labeled vitamin K quinones were supplemented to male and female C57BL6 mice (2H7PK, 13C11MK4, 2H7MK7, 2H7MK9) and to an in vitro fermentation model inoculated with human stool (2H7PK, 2H7MK4, 2H7MK9, or vitamin K precursor 2H8-menadione). Vitamin K quinones in feces and culture aliquots were measured using LC-MS. In vivo, supplemented vitamin K quinones were remodeled to other MKn (2H7- or 13C6-labeled MK4, MK10, MK11, and MK12), but in vitro only the precursor 2H8-menadione was remodeled to 2H7MK4, 2H7MK9, 2H7MK10, and 2H7MK11. These results suggest that dietary vitamin K deficiency alters the gut microbial community composition. Further studies are needed to determine if menadione generated by host metabolism may serve as an intermediate in dietary vitamin K remodeling in vivo.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1-16
Number of pages16
JournalGut Microbes
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2021
Externally publishedYes


  • Gut microbiota
  • menaquinone
  • metabolism
  • micronutrient
  • stable isotope
  • vitamin K

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Microbiology (medical)
  • Gastroenterology
  • Infectious Diseases
  • Microbiology


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