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Micronutrient Information Center

The Vitamin K Cycle

The reduced form of vitamin K (hydroquinone) donates a pair of electrons to the vitamin K-dependent carboxylase (known as gamma-glutamyl carboxylase), which carboxylates glutamic acid residues in specific vitamin K-dependent proteins. The resultant oxidized form of vitamin K (epoxide) is converted back to hydroquinone in a two-step reaction. The first step, which converts vitamin K epoxide to vitamin K, is catalyzed by vitamin K-epoxide reductase; the second step is catalyzed by either vitamin K-epoxide reductase or most likely by another yet-to-defined reductase. This pathway is inhibited by the vitamin K antagonist and anticoagulant drug, warfarin. The reduction of vitamin K to hydroquinone is also possibly catalyzed by a NAD(P)H-dependent reductase that is resistant to warfarin.