Understanding Vitamin K in Diabetes
Vitamin K is a micronutrient that is essential to the proper functioning of proteins involved in blood coagulation and tissue mineralization. Recent studies suggest that a partial vitamin K deficiency could be linked to obesity, insulin resistance and diabetes. A better understanding of the role that vitamin K plays in these pathologies could lead to new treatments and diagnostic tools.
Dr. Mathieu Ferron, Canada Research Chair in Bone and Energy Metabolism, is interested in discovering and characterizing the role played by vitamin K in energy metabolism. His uses genetically modified mice whose coding genes for vitamin K have been disabled in certain organs—for example, the pancreas cells, which produce insulin.
Research by Ferron and his team is underlining the important role that bone tissue plays in energy metabolism. In fact, bones produce a hormone, called osteocalcin, that stimulates the pancreas to secrete insulin and increases other tissues’ sensitivity to it. Since the function of osteocalcin is in part regulated by vitamin K, this research may also help us make sense of how osteocalcin interacts with glucose metabolism.
These studies will help us to better understand the physiological roles played by bone tissue and the pancreas, and could ultimately lead to more effective treatments for diabetes and obesity.