Inadequate dietary magnesium intake increases atherosclerotic plaque development in rabbits

Nutr Res. 2009 May;29(5):343-9. doi: 10.1016/j.nutres.2009.05.001.


Epidemiological studies have shown dietary magnesium (Mg) intake and serum Mg levels to be inversely correlated with the development of atherosclerosis. We hypothesized that low levels of Mg would promote atherosclerotic plaque development in rabbits. New Zealand white rabbits (4 months old, n = 22) were fed an atherogenic diet containing 0.12% (-Mg), 0.27% (control), or 0.43% (+Mg) Mg for 8 weeks. Blood samples were obtained at baseline, 2, 4, 6, and 8 weeks and were assayed for total cholesterol, high-density lipoprotein (HDL), non-HDL, triglycerides (TG), C-reactive protein, serum Mg, and erythrocyte Mg. Aortas from -Mg had significantly more plaque, with an intima thickness 42% greater than control and 36% greater than +Mg. Serum cholesterol levels rose over time, and at 8 weeks, -Mg had the highest and +Mg the lowest total and non-HDL cholesterol and TG levels, although these results did not reach significance. Over time, serum Mg levels increased, and erythrocyte Mg levels decreased. C-reactive protein significantly increased in all groups at 4 and 6 weeks but returned to baseline levels by 8 weeks. This study supports the hypothesis that inadequate intake of Mg results in an increase in atherosclerotic plaque development in rabbits.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Aorta / drug effects
  • Aorta / pathology
  • Atherosclerosis / etiology*
  • Atherosclerosis / metabolism
  • Atherosclerosis / pathology
  • C-Reactive Protein / metabolism
  • Cholesterol / blood
  • Diet
  • Erythrocytes / drug effects
  • Erythrocytes / metabolism
  • Magnesium / metabolism
  • Magnesium / pharmacology*
  • Magnesium Deficiency / complications
  • Magnesium Deficiency / metabolism*
  • Rabbits
  • Triglycerides / blood
  • Tunica Intima / drug effects*
  • Tunica Intima / pathology


  • Triglycerides
  • C-Reactive Protein
  • Cholesterol
  • Magnesium