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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2008 Apr 15;105(15):5768-73. doi: 10.1073/pnas.0712401105. Epub 2008 Apr 7.

Magnesium deficiency accelerates cellular senescence in cultured human fibroblasts.

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  • 1Nutrition and Metabolism Center, Children's Hospital Oakland Research Institute, Oakland, CA 94609, USA.


Magnesium inadequacy affects more than half of the U.S. population and is associated with increased risk for many age-related diseases, yet the underlying mechanisms are unknown. Altered cellular physiology has been demonstrated after acute exposure to severe magnesium deficiency, but few reports have addressed the consequences of long-term exposure to moderate magnesium deficiency in human cells. Therefore, IMR-90 human fibroblasts were continuously cultured in magnesium-deficient conditions to determine the long-term effects on the cells. These fibroblasts did not demonstrate differences in cellular viability or plating efficiency but did exhibit a decreased replicative lifespan in populations cultured in magnesium-deficient compared with standard media conditions, both at ambient (20% O(2)) and physiological (5% O(2)) oxygen tension. The growth rates for immortalized IMR-90 fibroblasts were not affected under the same conditions. IMR-90 fibroblast populations cultured in magnesium-deficient conditions had increased senescence-associated beta-galactosidase activity and increased p16(INK4a) and p21(WAF1) protein expression compared with cultures from standard media conditions. Telomere attrition was also accelerated in cell populations from magnesium-deficient cultures. Thus, the long-term consequence of inadequate magnesium availability in human fibroblast cultures was accelerated cellular senescence, which may be a mechanism through which chronic magnesium inadequacy could promote or exacerbate age-related disease.

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