The physiology of renal magnesium handling

Ren Physiol. 1986;9(5):257-69. doi: 10.1159/000173090.


Present evidence suggests that the renal handling of magnesium is normally a filtration-reabsorption process as evidence for secretion is unsubstantiated. Magnesium reabsorption has distinctive features when compared with that of sodium and calcium. The proximal tubule concentration of magnesium rises to levels about 1.5 times greater than the glomerular filtrate and only 20-30% of the filtered magnesium is reabsorbed in this segment. Although the fractional reabsorption of magnesium is only half that of sodium, it changes in parallel with that of sodium in response to changes in extracellular fluid volume. The major portion of filtered magnesium (some 65%) is reabsorbed in the loop of Henle and evidence indicates that the thick ascending limb is the principal segment involved in magnesium absorption. Recent observations suggests that magnesium reabsorption in the ascending limb may be voltage dependent and secondary to active sodium chloride reabsorption. The loop of Henle appears to be the major nephron site where magnesium reabsorption is regulated possibly by cAMP-mediated hormones including parathyroid hormones, calcitonin, glucagon and antidiuretic hormone. About 10% of the filtered magnesium is delivered into the distal nephron. The distal tubule reabsorbs only a small fraction of the filtered magnesium which may be regulated by the same cAMP-mediated hormones involved in control of magnesium in the loop.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Biological Transport
  • Humans
  • Kidney / physiology*
  • Kidney Glomerulus / physiology
  • Kidney Tubules / physiology
  • Magnesium / metabolism*


  • Magnesium