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J Lab Clin Med. 1996 Feb;127(2):207-13.

Relationship between skeletal muscle intracellular ionized magnesium and measurements of blood magnesium.

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  • 1Laboratory of Cardiac Energetics, National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, MD 20892, USA.


The current laboratory approach to assessing magnesium status is based on determining the concentration of total Mg ((Mg)) in serum or plasma. This strategy is problematic in that the amount of Mg in blood is less than 1% of total body Mg and does not accurately reflect (Mg) in other tissues. Furthermore, the (Mg) of blood does not distinguish biologically active, ionized Mg from the bound fraction. The goal of this study was to determine intracellular ionized Mg ((Mg++)i) of skeletal muscle in vivo and to compare results with the (Mg) of blood constituents. (Mg++)i was determined in resting skeletal muscle by using phosphorus 31 magnetic resonance (31P-MR) spectroscopy. (Mg) was measured in serum (S(Mg)), serum ultrafiltrate (UF(Mg)), mononuclear blood cells (MBC(Mg)), and red blood cells (RBC(Mg)) by using atomic absorption spectroscopy or a colorimetric assay. In a sample of 60 healthy adult subjects, skeletal muscle (Mg++)i = 557 +/- 97 mumol/L (mean +/- SD); S(Mg) = 0.78 +/- 0.09 mmol/L; UF(Mg) = 0.60 +/- 0.12 mmol/L; MBC(Mg) = 13.8 +/- 2.3 mmol/L; and, RBC(Mg) = 1.92 +/- 0.33 mmol/L. A significant negative correlation was found between (Mg++)i and S(Mg) (r = -0.43, p < 0.05). S(Mg) was significantly lower (p < 0.05) and (Mg++)i significantly higher (p < 0.05) in women than in men, but neither was related to age. These findings provide new insight into the relationship between blood Mg measures and (Mg++)i of the largest soft tissue mass of the human body.

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