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Biochim Biophys Acta. 2004 May 24;1689(1):6-12.

High concentrations of magnesium modulate vascular endothelial cell behaviour in vitro.

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  • 1University of Milan, Department of Preclinical Sciences-LITA Vialba, Via GB Grassi 74, 20157 Milano, Italy.


Magnesium supplementation has been reported to prevent cardiovascular diseases through the decrease of plasma lipids and to improve endothelial function in patients with coronary artery disease. In the present work, we evaluated whether high magnesium concentrations can directly affect the function of cultured endothelial cells, which play a crucial role in maintaining the functional integrity of the vascular wall. We cultured human umbilical vein endothelial cells for various times in media containing different concentration of magnesium (range 2 to 10 mM) and compared them to the corresponding controls (1 mM Mg). High Mg concentrations stimulated endothelial proliferation, enhanced the motogenic response to angiogenic factors and attenuated the response to lipopolysaccharide (LPS). In addition, we demonstrate that high concentrations of magnesium did not modulate the levels of plasminogen activator inhibitor-1, but enhanced the synthesis of nitric oxide, in part through the up-regulation of endothelial nitric oxide synthase. Our results demonstrate a direct role of magnesium in maintaining endothelial function. We therefore anticipate that magnesium may have a protective effect against atherosclerosis and could play a role in promoting the growth of collateral vessels in chronic ischemia. Moreover, because it induces the synthesis of nitric oxide, this cation could be a helpful tool in hypertension as well as in preventing thrombosis.

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