Magnesium and Cystic Fibrosis

Cystic fibrosis is a life-threatening, genetic disease that causes persistent lung infections and progressively limits the ability to breathe.

In people with Cystic Fibrosis, a defective gene causes a thick, buildup of mucus in the lungs, pancreas and other organs. In the lungs, the mucus clogs the airways and traps bacteria leading to infections, extensive lung damage and eventually, respiratory failure. In the pancreas, the mucus prevents the release of digestive enzymes that allow the body to break down food and absorb vital nutrients.


The metabolism of sodium, potassium, and chloride and the acid-base balance are sometimes altered in cystic fibrosis. Textbooks and reviews only marginally address the homeostasis of magnesium in cystic fibrosis.


We performed a search of the Medical Subject Headings terms (cystic fibrosis OR mucoviscidosis) AND (magnesium OR hypomagnes[a]emia) in the US National Library of Medicine and Excerpta Medica databases.


We identified 25 reports dealing with magnesium and cystic fibrosis. The results of the review may be summarized as follows. First, hypomagnesemia (deficiency of magnesium in the blood) affects more than half of the cystic fibrosis patients with advanced disease; second, magnesemia, which is normally age-independent, relevantly decreases with age in cystic fibrosis; third, aminoglycoside antimicrobials frequently induce both acute and chronic renal magnesium-wasting; fourth, sweat magnesium concentration was normal in cystic fibrosis patients; fifth, limited data suggest the existence of an impaired intestinal magnesium balance. Finally, stimulating observations suggest that magnesium supplements might achieve an improvement in respiratory muscle strength and mucolytic activity of both recombinant and endogenous deoxyribonuclease.


The first comprehensive review of the literature confirms that, despite being one of the most prevalent minerals in the body, the importance of magnesium in cystic fibrosis is largely overlooked. In these patients, hypomagnesemia should be sought once a year. Furthermore, the potential of supplementation with this cation deserves more attention. Pediatr Pulmonol. © 2015 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.

© 2015 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.


Santi M, Milani GP, Simonetti GD, Fossali EF, Bianchetti MG, Lava SA. “Magnesium in cystic fibrosis-Systematic review of the literature.”Pediatr Pulmonol. 2015 Dec 10. doi: 10.1002/ppul.23356.


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