Objective: To investigate the long-term effect of oral magnesium supplementation on clinical symptoms, bronchial reactivity, lung function and allergen-induced skin responses in children and adolescents with moderate persistent asthma.
Design: A double-blind randomized parallel placebo-controlled study.
Setting and subjects: The patients were recruited from the Pediatric Outpatient Clinic, Division of Pulmonology, Allergy and Immunology, and followed at the Center for Investigation in Pediatrics at State University of Campinas Hospital, Brazil. Thirty-seven out of 72 patients met the study criteria. There were no dropouts.
Intervention: The 37 patients (aged 7-19 years, 19 males) were randomized in two groups: magnesium (n=18, 300 mg/day) and placebo (n=19), during 2 months. Both patient groups received inhaled fluticasone (250 microg twice a day) and salbutamol as needed. The primary outcome was bronchial reactivity evaluated with methacholine challenge test (PC20).
Results: After a follow-up of 2 months, the methacholine PC20 for testing bronchial reactivity has augmented significantly in the magnesium group only. The skin responses to recognized antigens have also decreased in patients treated with magnesium. The forced vital capacity (FVC), the forced expiratory volume at first second (FEV1), the forced expiratory flow at 25-75 and the FEV1/FVC ratio were similar in both groups. The magnesium group presented fewer asthma exacerbations and used less salbutamol compared to the placebo group.
Conclusions: Oral magnesium supplementation helped to reduce bronchial reactivity to methacholine, to diminish their allergen-induced skin responses and to provide better symptom control in pediatric patients with moderate persistent asthma treated with inhaled fluticasone.