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J Clin Invest. 1997 Oct 1;100(7):1847-52.

Oral magnesium supplements reduce erythrocyte dehydration in patients with sickle cell disease.

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Department of Medicine, University of Verona, Verona, 37134 Italy.


Intracellular polymerization and sickling depend markedly on the cellular concentration of sickle hemoglobin (Hb S). A possible therapeutic strategy for sickle cell disease is based on reducing the cellular concentration of Hb S through prevention of erythrocyte dehydration. The K-Cl cotransporter is a major determinant of sickle cell dehydration and is inhibited by increasing erythrocyte Mg content. We studied 10 patients with sickle cell disease before treatment and after 2 and 4 wk of treatment with oral Mg supplements (0.6 meq/kg/d Mg pidolate). Hematological parameters, erythrocyte Na, K, and Mg content, erythrocyte density, membrane transport of Na and K, and osmotic gradient ektacytometry were measured. We found significant increases in sickle erythrocyte Mg and K content and reduction in the number of dense sickle erythrocytes. Erythrocyte K-Cl cotransport was reduced significantly. We also observed a significant reduction in the absolute reticulocyte count and in the number of immature reticulocytes. Ektacytometric analysis showed changes indicative of improved hydration of the erythrocytes. There were no laboratory or clinical signs of hypermagnesemia. Mild, transient diarrhea was the only reported side effect. We conclude that oral Mg supplementation reduces the number of dense erythrocytes and improves the erythrocyte membrane transport abnormalities of patients with sickle cell disease.

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