Despite the importance of the adrenergic activity and of the metabolism of magnesium in some important cardiovascular pathologies, very little is known about how intracellular ionized magnesium (Mgi2+) is regulated by catecholamines. We made an in-vitro study of the variations in the concentration of ionized magnesium in human lymphocytes using the fluorescent probe furaptra in response to different catecholamines. We also made an ex-vivo study of the changes in intracellular ionized magnesium in lymphocytes in 20 subjects with essential arterial hypertension, 10 treated with 120 mg/d of propranolol and 10 with placebo. Norepinephrine and isoproterenol significantly decrease Mgi2+ and this effect is blocked by beta-blockers but not by alpha-blockers. The EC50 of the effect of norepinephrine is within the range of concentrations physiologically present in plasma. The substitution of extracellular sodium with choline blocks the decrease in intracellular ionized magnesium induced by norepinephrine, which leads us to suppose that the magnesium-reducing effect of catecholamines is a result of the activation of a Na+-Mg2+ exchanger. We were not able to demonstrate any change in intracellular ionized magnesium after 1 and 17 days of active treatment in essential hypertensives. The impossibility of demonstrating ex vivo the mechanism of catecholamine-mediated regulation that is evident in vitro is perhaps due to our experimental conditions or to substances which in vivo inhibit the action of the catecholamines on magnesium, such as insulin and/or glucose.
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