Aim To assess the rate of matrix Gla-protein carboxylation in patients with small intestinal bacterial overgrowth (SIBO) and to decipher its association with subclinical atherosclerosis. METHODS Patients with suspected SIBO who presented with a low risk for cardiovascular disease and showed no evidence of atherosclerotic plaques were included in the study. A glucose breath test was performed in order to confirm the diagnosis of SIBO and vascular assessment was carried out by ultrasound examination. Plasma levels of the inactive form of MGP (dephosphorylateduncarboxylated matrix Gla-protein) were quantified by ELISA and vitamin K2 intake was estimated using a food frequency questionnaire. RESULTS Thirty-nine patients were included in the study. SIBO was confirmed in 12/39 (30.8%) patients who also presented with a higher concentration of dephosphorylated-uncarboxylated matrix Gla-protein (9.5 μ g/L vs 4.2 μ g/L; P = 0.004). Arterial stiffness was elevated in the SIBO group (pulse-wave velocity 10.25 m/s vs 7.68 m/s; P = 0.002) and this phenomenon was observed to correlate linearly with the levels of dephosphorylated-uncarboxylated matrix Gla-protein (ß = 0.220, R 2 = 0.366, P = 0.03). Carotid intima-media thickness and arterial calcifications were not observed to be significantly elevated as compared to controls. CONCLUSION SIBO is associated with reduced matrix Gla-protein activation as well as arterial stiffening. Both these observations are regarded as important indicators of subclinical atherosclerosis. Hence, screening for SIBO, intestinal decontamination and supplementation with vitamin K2 has the potential to be incorporated into clinical practice as additional preventive measures.
- Cardiovascular disease risk
- Small intestinal bacterial overgrowth
- Vitamin K