Dietary magnesium deficiency affects gut microbiota and anxiety-like behaviour in C57BL/6N mice

Acta Neuropsychiatr. 2015 Oct;27(5):307-11. doi: 10.1017/neu.2015.10. Epub 2015 Mar 16.


Objective: Magnesium deficiency has been associated with anxiety in humans, and rodent studies have demonstrated the gut microbiota to impact behaviour.

Methods: We investigated the impact of 6 weeks of dietary magnesium deficiency on gut microbiota composition and anxiety-like behaviour and whether there was a link between the two. A total of 20 C57BL/6 mice, fed either a standard diet or a magnesium-deficient diet for 6 weeks, were tested using the light-dark box anxiety test. Gut microbiota composition was analysed by denaturation gradient gel electrophoresis.

Results: We demonstrated that the gut microbiota composition correlated significantly with the behaviour of dietary unchallenged mice. A magnesium-deficient diet altered the gut microbiota, and was associated with altered anxiety-like behaviour, measured by decreased latency to enter the light box.

Conclusion: Magnesium deficiency altered behavior. The duration of magnesium deficiency is suggested to influence behaviour in the evaluated test.

Keywords: animal models; anxiety; gut microbiota; magnesium.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Anxiety / etiology*
  • Anxiety / microbiology
  • Behavior, Animal / physiology*
  • Denaturing Gradient Gel Electrophoresis / methods
  • Diet
  • Disease Models, Animal
  • Gastrointestinal Microbiome / physiology*
  • Magnesium / administration & dosage*
  • Magnesium Deficiency / microbiology*
  • Magnesium Deficiency / psychology*
  • Male
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred C57BL
  • Random Allocation


  • Magnesium