Magnesium and its transporters in cancer: a novel paradigm in tumour development

Clin Sci (Lond). 2012 Oct;123(7):417-27. doi: 10.1042/CS20120086.


The relationship between magnesium and cancer is not as simple as could be assumed from the well-established requirement of magnesium for cell proliferation. Basic and pre-clinical studies indicate that magnesium deficiency can have both anti- and pro-tumour effects. In the present review, we briefly outline the new findings on the role of magnesium in angiogenesis and metastatization, and focus on the relationship between tumour cell proliferation and metabolic reprogramming, discussing how magnesium and its transporters are involved in these processes. The role of magnesium in cancer is also critically examined with regard to mitochondrial function, apoptosis and resistance to treatment. Finally, we bring together the latest experimental evidence indicating that alteration in the expression and/or activity of magnesium channels is a frequent finding in cancer cells and human tumour tissues examined to date, and we discuss the potential implications for developing novel diagnostic and therapeutic strategies.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Humans
  • Magnesium / metabolism*
  • Neoplasms / metabolism*
  • Neoplasms / pathology*
  • Protein Serine-Threonine Kinases
  • TRPM Cation Channels / metabolism*


  • TRPM Cation Channels
  • TRPM6 protein, human
  • Protein Serine-Threonine Kinases
  • TRPM7 protein, human
  • Magnesium