Renal magnesium handling and its hormonal control

Physiol Rev. 1994 Apr;74(2):305-22. doi: 10.1152/physrev.1994.74.2.305.


Our understanding of renal Mg handling has been expanded in recent years with the use of electron probe, ultramicroanalysis, and fluorescent dye techniques to determine total Mg and free Mg2+ in individual tubule segments and cells, respectively. Recent studies have shown that [Mg2+]i is a highly mobile cation that may be altered by a number of influences including hormones. It is likely that the hormonal changes in [Mg2+]i, reported here and elsewhere, are involved in intracellular metabolism and regulation rather than transepithelial transport. The role of intracellular Mg2+ in control of cell function is poorly understood. However, it is evident that [Mg2+]i may be rapidly charged through a number of different influences that may have important effects on cell function. These kinds of data have enlarged our understanding of Mg conservation by the renal tubule but have posed many questions for further study. Magnesium is handled in different ways along the nephron. About 80% of the total plasma Mg (1.5-2.0 mM) is ultrafilterable across the glomerular membrane. Of the ultrafilterable Mg (1.2-1.6 mM), only 20-25% is reabsorbed by the proximal tubule, including the convoluted and straight portions. This is in contrast to Na and Ca reabsorption, which amounts to approximately 70 and 60%, respectively, in the proximal nephron. Accordingly, the fractional delivery of Mg to the thick ascending limb of the loop of Henle is much greater than that of Na or Ca. It is now evident from micropuncture studies that proportionally greater amounts of Mg (50-60%) are reabsorbed in the loop compared with Na (20-25%) or Ca (30-35%). Because the terminal nephron segments, including the DCT and collecting tubule, reabsorb only a small portion of the filtered Mg (approximately 5%), the loop of Henle plays a major role in the determination of Mg reabsorption, and it is in this segment that the major regulatory factors act to maintain Mg balance. Magnesium reabsorption in the thick ascending limb takes place in the cortical segments, at least in the mouse and rat. Evidence summarized here suggests that Mg is passively reabsorbed via the paracellular pathway in the cTAL of the loop of Henle. Several factors affect Mg reabsorption in the loop of Henle. Hypermagnesemia and hypercalcemia inhibit reabsorption leading to increased urinary excretion of Mg and Ca. These effects have been reviewed in detail elsewhere (113, 149). Magnesium depletion, for instance through dietary Mg deprivation, enhances Mg reabsorption in the loop of Henle before the fall in plasma Mg concentration and filtered Mg load.(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 400 WORDS)

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Biological Transport / physiology
  • Hormones / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Kidney / metabolism*
  • Magnesium / metabolism*


  • Hormones
  • Magnesium