El-Sayed ZA, Abdel Baky A, Youssef MF, Mohamed S

Faculty of Medicine, Ain-Shams University, Cairo, Egypt


Objective: To outline the possible role of magnesium (Mg) in the pathogenesis and treatment of bronchial asthma.

Methods: Mg concentration in serum (SMg), 24 hours urine sample (UMg) and intracellularly in mononuclear cells (MMg) and erythrocytes (EMg) was measured by atomic absorption spectrophotometry in 27 persistent asthma children during wheezy episodes. MgSO­4 (50mg/kg, i.v. infusion) was given to severely asthmatic children with reevaluation at the end of infusion and 2-4 wks. later during steady state.

Results: Severe asthma patients had significant lower SMg, intracellular and UMg compared to controls. In moderate asthma, there was a deficiency in intracellular Mg but SMg was comparable to controls possibly maintained by decreased renal excretion (decreased Umg). Patients with mild asthma had significant deficiency in EMg only.  The degree of Mg deficiency closely followed the grade of asthma. SMg and MMg correlated negatively with respiratory rate and positively with peak expiratory flow rate (PEFR) in severely asthmatic children. MgSO­4 infusion resulted in clinical improvement and significant increase in PEFR and in Mg indices.

Conclusion: Asthmatic children suffer Mg deficiency, the degree of which increase with increasing severity of asthma. Urinary and intracellular Mg proved more reliable than SMg as indices of magnesium status. MgSO4 infusion is efficacious as a bronchodilator in acute episodes.