Disorders of calcium and magnesium balance: a physiology-based approach

Pediatr Nephrol. 2013 Aug;28(8):1195-206. doi: 10.1007/s00467-012-2350-2. Epub 2012 Nov 10.


Disorders of calcium and magnesium balance are physiologically interesting and clinically challenging. In this review, we attempt to bridge the gap between physiology and practice by providing a physiology-based approach to understanding hypocalcemia, hypercalcemia and hypomagnesemia. Calcium and, to a lesser extent, magnesium balance is achieved through a complex interplay between the parathyroid gland, bone, the intestine and the kidney. Our understanding of the molecular physiology of calcium and magnesium balance has grown considerably following the discovery of the calcium-sensing receptor (CaSR) and the main intestinal and renal transporters for calcium and magnesium, namely, the transient receptor potential channels TRPV5, TRPV6 and TRPM6. The regulation of parathyroid hormone (PTH) secretion by CaSR and the subsequent effects of PTH and vitamin D on TRPV5 constitute an increasingly characterized regulatory loop. In contrast, no truly magnesiotropic hormones have been identified, although the recently established interactions between the epidermal growth factor and TRPM6 suggest a possible candidate. Overall, the aim of this review is to illustrate the clinical disorders of calcium and magnesium balance from the perspective of their integrated physiology.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Calcium / metabolism*
  • Calcium Metabolism Disorders / metabolism*
  • Calcium Metabolism Disorders / physiopathology
  • Homeostasis
  • Humans
  • Hypercalcemia / metabolism
  • Hypercalcemia / physiopathology
  • Hypocalcemia / metabolism
  • Hypocalcemia / physiopathology
  • Magnesium / metabolism*
  • Magnesium Deficiency / metabolism
  • Magnesium Deficiency / physiopathology


  • Magnesium
  • Calcium