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J Forensic Sci. 2012 Jul;57(4):979-82. doi: 10.1111/j.1556-4029.2012.02108.x. Epub 2012 Feb 28.

Alcohol intoxication may exacerbate the effects of blunt cranial trauma through changes in brain free magnesium levels.

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Adelaide Centre for Neuroscience Research, School of Medical Sciences, The University of Adelaide, Frome Road, Adelaide, SA 5005, Australia.


Moderate to high levels of alcohol decrease brain intracellular free magnesium concentration, a factor known to be critical in brain injury. Phosphorus magnetic resonance spectroscopy was used to examine changes to brain free magnesium concentration after blunt cranial trauma in alcohol-intoxicated rats. Rats exposed acutely or chronically to alcohol sufficient to increase blood alcohol levels to between 150 and 350 mg/dL demonstrated a brain free magnesium level that was 20-50% less than in nonintoxicated animals (p < 0.01). After injury, brain free magnesium levels declined more rapidly and to a greater extent in alcohol-affected animals than in nonintoxicated control animals (p < 0.001). As both preinjury depletion of magnesium and degree of magnesium decline after brain injury have been associated with poor recovery, these findings suggest that moderate to severe alcohol intoxication may predispose the brain to a worse outcome by reducing brain free magnesium levels, both before and after injury.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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