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Neuropathology. 2006 Apr;26(2):115-28.

Magnesium deficiency over generations in rats with special references to the pathogenesis of the Parkinsonism-dementia complex and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis of Guam.

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Department of Neuropathology, Tokyo Metropolitan Institute for Neuroscience, Japan.


Parkinsonism-dementia complex (PDC) and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) are fatal neurological diseases. The incidence on Guam was very high between 1950 and 1965 but decreased dramatically after 1965. It is thought that drinking water containing low levels of calcium (Ca) and magnesium (Mg), and high levels of aluminum and of a plant excitatory neurotoxin are involved in the pathogenesis of these diseases. The present experiment was performed in rats that were exposed to low Ca and/or Mg intake over two generations, thus simulating the conditions of human life on Guam, where several generations live continuously in the same environment. Significant loss of dopaminergic neurons was identified exclusively in the substantia nigra in 1-year-old rats that had been exposed continuously to low Mg intake (one-fifth of the normal level) over generations. The present study suggests that low Mg intake over generations may be involved in the pathogenesis of substantia nigra degeneration in humans.

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