Open Access Open Badges Research article

Magnesium deficiency: effect on bone mineral density in the mouse appendicular skeleton

Helen E Gruber1*, Robert K Rude2, L Wei2, A Frausto2, Barbara G Mills2 and H James Norton3

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Orthopaedic Surgery, Cannon Bldg, 3rd floor, Carolinas Medical Center, PO Box 32861, Charlotte, N.C. 28203, USA

2 University of Southern California and the Orthopaedic Hospital, 2025 Zonal Ave., Los Angeles, CA 90033, USA

3 Department of Biostatistics, Carolinas Medical Center, PO Box 32861, Charlotte, N.C. 28232, USA

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BMC Musculoskeletal Disorders 2003, 4:7  doi:10.1186/1471-2474-4-7

Published: 17 April 2003



Dietary magnesium (Mg) deficiency in the mouse perturbs bone and mineral homeostasis. The objective of the present study was to evaluate bone mineral density of the femur in control and Mg-deficient mice.


BALB/c mice aged 28 days at study initiation were maintained on a normal or Mg deficient (0.0002% Mg) diet, and at time points 0, 2, 4 or 6 weeks bones were harvested for bone mineral density analysis. Peripheral quantitative computed tomography (pQCT) was used to assess the trabecular metaphyseal compartment and the cortical midshaft.


Although mean total bone density of the femoral midshaft in Mg deficient mice did not differ significantly from controls throughout the study, the trabecular bone compartment showed significantly decreased mineral content after 4 (p < 0.001) and 6 weeks (p < 0.001) of Mg depletion.


This study demonstrates the profound effect of Mg depletion on the trabecular compartment of bone, which, with its greater surface area and turnover, was more responsive to Mg depletion than cortical bone in the appendicular skeleton of the mouse.