There are two forms of naturally occurring vitamin K, phylloquinone and the menaquinones. Phylloquinone (vitamin K1) is a major type (>90%) of dietary vitamin K, but its concentrations in animal tissues are remarkably low compared with those of the menaquinones, especially menaquinone-4 (vitamin K2), the major form (>90%) of vitamin K in tissues. Despite this great difference, the origin of tissue menaquinone-4 has yet to be exclusively defined. It is postulated that phylloquinone is converted into menaquinone-4 and accumulates in extrahepatic tissues. To clarify this, phylloquinone with a deuterium-labeled 2-methyl-1,4-naphthoquinone ring was given orally to mice, and cerebra were collected for D NMR and liquid chromatography-tandem mass spectrometry analyses. We identified the labeled menaquinone-4 that was converted from the given phylloquinone, and this conversion occurred following an oral or enteral administration, but not parenteral or intracerebroventricular administration. By the oral route, the phylloquinone with the deuterium-labeled side chain in addition to the labeled 2-methyl-1,4-naphthoquinone was clearly converted into a labeled menaquinone-4 with a non-deuterium-labeled side chain, implying that phylloquinone was converted into menaquinone-4 via integral side-chain removal. The conversion also occurred in cerebral slice cultures and primary cultures. Deuterium-labeled menadione was consistently converted into the labeled menaquinone-4 with all of the administration routes and the culture conditions tested. Our results suggest that cerebral menaquinone-4 originates from phylloquinone intake and that there are two routes of accumulation, one is the release of menadione from phylloquinone in the intestine followed by the prenylation of menadione into menaquinone-4 in tissues, and another is cleavage and prenylation within the cerebrum.
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