Associations of serum magnesium with brain morphology and subclinical cerebrovascular disease: The atherosclerosis risk in communities-neurocognitive study

Aniqa B. Alam, Danashia S. Thomas, Pamela L. Lutsey, Srishti Shrestha, Alvaro Alonso

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


Circulating magnesium has been associated with a lower risk of dementia, but the physi-ologic effects by which magnesium may prevent neurological insults remain unclear. We studied 1466 individuals (mean age 76.2 ± 5.3, 28.8% black, 60.1% female) free of prevalent stroke, with measured serum magnesium and with available MRI scans obtained in 2011–2013, participating in the Atherosclerosis Risk in Communities Neurocognitive Study (ARIC-NCS). Cross-sectional differences in frontal, temporal, parietal, and occipital lobe volume, along with deep grey matter, total brain, and white matter hyperintensity volume across serum magnesium (categorized into quin-tiles and per standard deviation increases) were assessed using multiple linear regression. We also examined associations of magnesium with the prevalence of cortical, subcortical, and lacunar infarcts using multiple logistic regression. After adjusting for demographics, biomarkers, medications, and cardiometabolic risk factors, higher circulating magnesium was associated with greater total brain volume and frontal, temporal, and parietal lobe volumes (volumes 0.14 to 0.19 standard deviations higher comparing Q5 to Q1). Elevated magnesium was also associated with lower odds of subcortical infarcts (OR (95%CI): 0.44 (0.25, 0.77) comparing Q5 to Q1) and lacunar infarcts (OR (95%CI): 0.40 (0.22, 0.71) comparing Q5 to Q1). Elevated serum magnesium was cross-sectionally associated with greater brain volumes and lower odds of subclinical cerebrovascular disease, suggesting beneficial effects on pathways related to neurodegeneration and cerebrovascular damage. Further exploration through prospective analyses is needed to assess increasing circulating magnesium as a potential neuroprotective intervention.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number4496
Issue number12
StatePublished - Dec 2021

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Funding: The Atherosclerosis Risk in Communities Study is carried out as a collaborative study supported by National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute contracts (HHSN268201700001I, HHSN268201700002I, HHSN268201700003I, HHSN268201700005I, HHSN268201700004I). Neurocognitive data is collected by U01 2U01HL096812, 2U01HL096814, 2U01HL096899, 2U01HL096902, 2U01HL096917 from the NIH (NHLBI, NINDS, NIA, and NIDCD), and with previous brain MRI examinations funded by R01-HL70825 from the NHLBI. Additional support was provided by National Institutes of Health awards K24HL148521, K24 HL159246, and P30AG066511. The content is solely the responsibility of the authors and does not necessarily represent the official views of the National Institutes of Health.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021 by the authors. Licensee MDPI, Basel, Switzerland.


  • Brain volume
  • Cerebrovascular disease
  • Magnesium


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