An inadequate and imbalanced intake of protein and energy results in protein-energy malnutrition (PEM). It is known that bone mineral density and serum magnesium levels are low in malnourished children. However, the roles of serum magnesium and endothelin-1 (ET-1) levels in the pathophysiology of bone mineralization are obscure. Thus, the relationships between serum magnesium and ET-1 levels and the changes in bone mineral density were investigated in this study.
There was a total of 32 subjects, 25 of them had PEM and seven were controls. While mean serum ET-1 levels of the children with kwashiorkor and marasmus showed no statistically significant difference, mean serum ET-1 levels of both groups were significantly higher than that of the control group. Serum magnesium levels were lower than normal value in 9 (36%) of 25 malnourished children.
Malnourished children included in this study were divided into two subgroups according to their serum magnesium levels. While mean serum ET-1 levels in the group with low magnesium levels were significantly higher than that of the group with normal magnesium levels (p < 0.05), mean bone mineral density and bone mineral content levels were significantly lower (p < 0.05).
In conclusion, many factors play a role in the pathophysiology of changes in bone mineral density in malnutrition. Our study suggested that lower magnesium levels and higher ET-1 levels might be important factors in changes of bone mineral density in malnutrition. We recommend that the malnourished patients, especially with hypomagnesaemia, should be treated with magnesium early.