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, 13 (3), 227-32

'Lemonade Legs': Why Do Some Patients Get Profound Hypomagnesaemia on Proton-Pump Inhibitors?


'Lemonade Legs': Why Do Some Patients Get Profound Hypomagnesaemia on Proton-Pump Inhibitors?

Nathan S S Atkinson et al. Intest Res.


Proton pump inhibitors (PPIs) are widely used though an association with hypomagnesaemia and hypocalcaemia has only been described since 2006. Patients typically present after years of stable dosing with musculoskeletal, neurological or cardiac arrhythmic symptoms, but it is likely that many cases are under-recognised. Magnesium levels resolve rapidly on discontinuation of PPI therapy and hypomagnesaemia recurs rapidly on rechallenge with any agent in the class. The cellular mechanisms of magnesium homeostasis are increasingly being understood, including both passive paracellular absorption through claudins and active transcellular transporters, including the transient receptor potential channels (TRPM6) identified in the intestine and nephron. PPIs may alter luminal pH by modulating pancreatic secretions, affecting non-gastric H+K+ATPase secretion, altering transporter transcription or channel function. A small reduction in intestinal absorption appears pivotal in causing cumulative deficiency. Risk factors have been associated to help identify patients at risk of this effect but clinical vigilance remains necessary for diagnosis.

Keywords: Adverse event; Fatigue; Hypomagnesaemia; Pathophysiology; Proton pump inhibitors.

Conflict of interest statement

Conflict of interest: None.


Fig. 1
Fig. 1. Example of proton pump inhibitor-induced hypomagnesaemia and hypocalcaemia in a patient pre-dating the original description in 2007. The patient, a 65 yr old retired schoolteacher, presented with profound recurrent hypomagnesaemia after treatment with a proton pump inhibitor (PPI) for 7 years. It was he who noticed the association and experimented with stopping, starting and switching PPIs. Arrows indicate intravenous magnesium infusions, the hashed bar periods of omeprazole exposure, the crossed bar lansoprazole exposure.

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