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Researchers from the University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio (UT Health San Antonio) have cracked a 100-year-old mystery!

We now know what activates magnesium ions in the cell. 

This revelation is significant because scientists believe it to be a springboard for innovative drugs to treat cardiovascular disease, metabolic issues like diabetes, and other diseases and disorders.

The research was published on Oct. 8, 2020, in the peer-reviewed journal Cell. Scientists in the Joe R. and Teresa Lozano Long School of Medicine at UT Health San Antonio reported that the magnesium activator is a metabolite called Lactate, which is elevated in the blood during extreme exercise and in numerous infections, including coronary illness, diabetes, sepsis, and cancer.

Lead author Madesh Muniswamy, Ph.D. professor of cardiology in the Long School of Medicine, explained, “Lactate is a signal that—like a light switch—turns on Magnesium’s ions. The ions rush out of cellular storehouses called the endoplasmic reticulum.”

Likewise, the group made a subsequent discovery: A protein called Mrs2 transports the delivered magnesium ions into cell powerhouses known as mitochondria. They create ATP, which is the currency of energy fueling all the processes in the body.

Coauthor W. Brian Reeves, MD, chairman of the Department of Medicine at UT Health San Antonio, states, “We believe this loop is essential for health. If there is a problem with magnesium routing, impairments ensue, such as the diminished mitochondrial function and poor energy production observed in Type 2 diabetes or severe infections.”

The activator for calcium ions, IP3, was discovered in 1984. Since then, monumental discoveries have been made in the field of calcium, but Magnesium continued to be a mystery.

Dr. Muniswamy summed up the discovery by saying, “Magnesium is essential for life. It’s in our blood. It’s been implicated in and used as a treatment for a variety of diseases, including migraines, cardiovascular diseases, diabetes, and preeclampsia. But to take the next step forward, we needed to understand the dynamics of Magnesium in our bodies. With this finding, we believe we have laid out one of the pillars of support that the scientific world needed.”

Here’s to more discoveries!