Magnesium: The overlooked electrolyte in blood cancers?

Jennifer Gile, Gordon Ruan, Jithma Abeykoon, M. Molly McMahon, Thomas Witzig

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


Magnesium is an important element that has essential roles in the regulation of cell growth, division, and differentiation. Mounting evidence in the literature suggests an association between hypomagnesemia and all-cause mortality. In addition, epidemiologic studies have demonstrated that a diet poor in magnesium increases the risk of developing cancer, highlighting its importance in the field of hematology and oncology. In solid malignancies, hypomagnesemia at diagnosis portends a worse prognosis. However, little is known about prognosis in patients with hypomagnesemia and blood cancers in general; lymphoma more specifically. Hypomagnesemia has been associated with a higher viral load of the Epstein Barr virus, a virus associated with a multitude of hematologic malignancies. The role of magnesium in the immune system has been further elucidated in studies of patients with a rare primary immunodeficiency known as XMEN disease (X-linked immunodeficiency with Magnesium defect, Epstein-Barr virus (EBV) infection, and Neoplasia disease). These patients have a mutation in the MAGT1 gene, which codes for a magnesium transporter. The mutation leads to impaired T cell activation and an increased risk of developing hematologic malignancies. In this review we discuss the relevance of magnesium as an electrolyte, current measurement techniques, and the known data related to cause and prognosis of blood cancers. The goal is to use these data to stimulate additional high-quality and well powered studies to further investigate the role of magnesium in preventing cancer and improving outcomes of patients with malignancy and concomitant magnesium deficiency.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number100676
JournalBlood Reviews
StatePublished - Nov 2020


  • Blood cancers
  • EBV
  • Lymphoma
  • Magnesium
  • Nutrition
  • XMEN

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Hematology
  • Oncology


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