Magnesium deficiency prevents high-fat-diet-induced obesity in mice

Steef Kurstjens, Janna A van Diepen, Caro Overmars-Bos, Wynand Alkema, René J M Bindels, Frances M Ashcroft, Cees J J Tack, Joost G J Hoenderop, Jeroen H F de Baaij

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


AIMS/HYPOTHESIS: Hypomagnesaemia (blood Mg2+ <0.7 mmol/l) is a common phenomenon in individuals with type 2 diabetes. However, it remains unknown how a low blood Mg2+ concentration affects lipid and energy metabolism. Therefore, the importance of Mg2+ in obesity and type 2 diabetes has been largely neglected to date. This study aims to determine the effects of hypomagnesaemia on energy homeostasis and lipid metabolism.

METHODS: Mice (n = 12/group) were fed either a low-fat diet (LFD) or a high-fat diet (HFD) (10% or 60% of total energy) in combination with a normal- or low-Mg2+ content (0.21% or 0.03% wt/wt) for 17 weeks. Metabolic cages were used to investigate food intake, energy expenditure and respiration. Blood and tissues were taken to study metabolic parameters and mRNA expression profiles, respectively.

RESULTS: We show that low dietary Mg2+ intake ameliorates HFD-induced obesity in mice (47.00 ± 1.53 g vs 38.62 ± 1.51 g in mice given a normal Mg2+-HFD and low Mg2+-HFD, respectively, p < 0.05). Consequently, fasting serum glucose levels decreased and insulin sensitivity improved in low Mg2+-HFD-fed mice. Moreover, HFD-induced liver steatosis was absent in the low Mg2+ group. In hypomagnesaemic HFD-fed mice, mRNA expression of key lipolysis genes was increased in epididymal white adipose tissue (eWAT), corresponding to reduced lipid storage and high blood lipid levels. Low Mg2+-HFD-fed mice had increased brown adipose tissue (BAT) Ucp1 mRNA expression and a higher body temperature. No difference was observed in energy expenditure between the two HFD groups.

CONCLUSIONS/INTERPRETATION: Mg2+-deficiency abrogates HFD-induced obesity in mice through enhanced eWAT lipolysis and BAT activity.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2030-2042
Issue number9
Publication statusPublished - 1 Sept 2018
Externally publishedYes


  • 3t3-l1 cells
  • diet, high-fat/adverse effects
  • insulin resistance/physiology
  • lipid metabolism/drug effects
  • magnesium
  • magnesium deficiency/metabolism
  • mice
  • obesity/etiology
  • real-time polymerase chain reaction


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