IJCEM Copyright © 2008-All rights reserved. Published by e-Century Publishing Corporation, Madison, WI 53711
Int J Clin Exp Med 2011;4(2):103-118

Original Article
Mg deficiency results in modulation of serum lipids, glutathione, and NO  synthase  
isozyme  activation in cardiovascular tissues: relevance to de novo synthesis of
ceramide , serum Mg2+ and atherogenesis

Nilank  C. Shah, Jian-Ping Liu, Jahangir  Iqbal, Mahmood Hussain, Xian-Cheng Jiang, Zhiqiang Li, Yan Li,  Tao Zheng, Wenyan Li,  
Anthony  C. Sica, Jose Luis  Perez-Albela,  Bella T. Altura, Burton  M.  Altura

Departments of Physiology and Pharmacology, Anatomy & Cell Biology, The Center for Cardiovascular & Muscle Research, State
University of New York, Downstate Medical Center, Brooklyn New York, NY, USA; Instituto Bien de Salud, Lima, Peru, Bio-Defense
Systems, Inc, Rockville Centre, New York, NY, USA.

Received March 2, 2011; accepted March 31, 2011; Epub April 5, 2011; published May 15, 2011

Abstract: The present work tested the hypothesis that short-term(S-T) dietary deficiency of magnesium ( Mg) (21 days) in rats would :1)
result in  reduction in serum(s) sphingomyelin(SM) and changes in several blood lipids, HDL-cholesterol (HDL-C) and
phosphatidylcholine(PC) concomitant with elevations in s cholesterol(chol) ,s LDL+VLDL and trigycerides(TG),as well as reduction in
the PC/cholesterol ratio;2) lead to  oxidative stress ,characterized by  reductions in glutathione(glut) content in the various chambers of
the heart and   activation of e-NOS and n-NOS in the atria, ventricles and aortic smooth muscle(ASM); 3) produce early cardiac damage
characterized by leakage of creatine kinase(CK) and lactic dehydrogenase(LDH); and 4) demonstrate that these pathophysiological
changes are a result of profound reductions in s ionized Mg (Mg2+) and activation of the SM-ceramide pathway. In addition, we
hypothesized that: 1) exposure of primary cultured vascular smooth muscle cells (VSMCs) to low extracellular Mg2+ would lead to de
novo synthesis of ceramide and activation of NO synthase with reduction in glut, both of which would be attenuated by inhibition of
sphingomyelinase(SMase)and serine palmitoyl CoA transferase(SPT) ;  and 2) low levels of Mg2+ added to the drinking water would
either prevent or ameliorate these manifestations. Our data indicate that S-T Mg deficiency resulted in reductions in s Mg2+, SM, PC,
HDL-C and the PC/chol ratio concomitant with decreases in tissue levels of glut, leakage of cardiac CK and LDH ,as well as activation
of e-NOS and n-NOS in all chambers of the heart and ASM.  The greater the reduction in s Mg2+, the greater the effects on all
parameters analyzed; very significant correlations to levels of s SM and Mg2+ were found with all of the serum and tissue
biochemical-molecular analytes  measured. Our experiments also showed that VSMCs exposed to low Mg2+resulted in activation of
NO synthase, loss of glut and de novo synthesis of ceramide which were attenuated by inhibitors of SMase and SPT. Low levels of
drinking water Mg2+ (e.g., 15 ppm) were cardio- and vascular protective. We believe these new findings support our concept of an
important role for the SM-ceramide pathway in the manifestations of Mg deficiency and atherogenesis. (IJCEM1103001).

Keywords: Sphingomyelin,  lipids, NO synthases, glutathione, cardiac enzymes, vascular muscley

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Address all correspondence to:
Dr. B. M. Altura,
Box 3, SUNY Downstate Medical Center
450 Clarkson Avenue
Brooklyn, NY  11203-2098
Tel: 718-270-2194;
Email:
baltura@downstate.edu