Effects of magnesium deficiency on protein and nucleic acid synthesis in vivo

J Nutr. 1977 Dec;107(12):2178-88. doi: 10.1093/jn/107.12.2178.


The effects of magnesium deficiency on the in vivo incorporation of labeled precursors into tissue macromolecules were studied. In severe Mg deficiency developing over 4 months, total protein synthesis in spleen and thymus was depressed by 40% to 50%, while DNA synthesis was increased by as much as 350%. RNA synthesis was not significantly altered. Protein synthesis in kidney was also reduced. In the intact liver, DNA synthesis was increased and RNA synthesis reduced, but protein synthesis was unchanged. The regeneration of the liver after partial hepatectomy was impaired, however, which suggested that the capacity of the liver protein synthetic system was reduced. The effects of magnesium deficiency were unaltered by the ingestion of ethanol that comprised approximately 25% of total energy. Each of the organs enlarged in Mg deficiency, and the spleen was strikingly hyperplastic. The increase in splenic DNA synthesis in the presence of depressed protein synthesis may be an early stage in a lymphoproliferative process leading ultimately to neoplasia.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • DNA / biosynthesis*
  • Ethanol / pharmacology
  • Hyperplasia
  • Magnesium Deficiency / metabolism*
  • Magnesium Deficiency / pathology
  • Male
  • Organ Specificity
  • Protein Biosynthesis*
  • RNA / biosynthesis*
  • Rats
  • Tissue Distribution


  • Ethanol
  • RNA
  • DNA