Reduced intracellular magnesium concentrations in asthmatic patients


Emelyanov A




Eur Respir J


Magnesium is important in the regulation of bronchomotor tone, and low dietary intake of magnesium has been associated with airway hyperresponsiveness in epidemiological studies. The concentration of magnesium in serum, erythrocytes and urine in 49 patients with asthma (29 males, aged 15-65 yrs) and in 25 normal subjects (15 males, aged 17-36 yrs) was studied by atomic absorption. Magnesium concentrations were significantly lower in erythrocytes and urine in both atopic (n = 26) and nonatopic (n = 23) asthmatic patients as compared with the control group, whereas serum concentrations did not differ. The concentration of magnesium in erythrocytes was not related to the degree of airway obstruction as measured by forced expiratory volume in one second (FEV1) but was significantly correlated with airway hyperresponsiveness measured as the provocative concentration causing a 20% fall in FEV1 to inhaled acetylcholine (r = 0.64; p<0.05). In addition, a magnesium tolerance test showed increased retention of magnesium (58.9% of administered dose in asthmatic patients compared with 8.9% in normal subjects, p<0.05). In conclusion, the low cellular concentration of magnesium may be associated with airway hyperresponsiveness in asthmatic patients.