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Arch Pathol Lab Med. 2002 Aug;126(8):947-50.

pH effects on measurements of ionized calcium and ionized magnesium in blood.

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Department of Pathology/Clinical Laboratories, Duke University Medical Center, Durham, NC 27710, USA.



It is well known that the concentration of ionized calcium in blood is affected by the pH of the specimen, since hydrogen ions compete with calcium for binding sites on albumin and other proteins. However, the relationship between pH and ionized magnesium concentration is not as well characterized.


To determine the effects of pH on ionized magnesium concentration over a wide range of pH values in serum or plasma.


Both ionized calcium and ionized magnesium concentrations were measured in 3 sets of samples. (1) Pools of serum or whole blood at different pH values (7.20-7.60) achieved by adding a constant volume of acid or base (diluted solutions of either hydrochloric acid or sodium hydroxide) plus saline. These pools consisted of 2 serum and 3 heparinized whole blood pools collected from leftover blood remaining in clinical specimens in the Clinical Chemistry and Blood Gas Laboratories, respectively, at Duke University Medical Center. (2) Five whole blood specimens obtained from apparently healthy individual donors. (3) Twenty-six whole blood specimens obtained from individual patients (leftover blood from the Blood Gas Laboratory) in which pH was varied by in vitro loss or gain of carbon dioxide.


Both ionized calcium and ionized magnesium concentrations decreased as the pH in the specimen increased, indicating the stronger binding of these ions with proteins in the more alkaline environment.


We conclude that the rate of change of ionized magnesium concentration with pH change (0.12 mmol/L per pH unit) is significantly less than that of ionized calcium (0.36 mmol/L per pH unit). Furthermore, our findings indicate that if adjustment to pH 7.40 is necessary, the ionized magnesium test results need to be adjusted when pH is markedly abnormal, as is sometimes done for ionized calcium.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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