Original Article

Osteoporosis International

, Volume 17, Issue 7, pp 1013-1021

First online:

Vitamin D insufficiency and the blunted PTH response in established osteoporosis: the role of magnesium deficiency

  • O. SahotaAffiliated withDepartment of Health Care of the Elderly, Queens Medical Centre, University Hospital Email author 
  • , M. K. MundeyAffiliated withSchool of Biomedical Sciences, Queens Medical Centre, University Hospital
  • , P. SanAffiliated withDivision of Mineral Metabolism, City Hospital
  • , I. M. GodberAffiliated withClinical Laboratories, Wishaw General Hospital
  • , D. J. HoskingAffiliated withDivision of Mineral Metabolism, City Hospital

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Vitamin D insufficiency is common, however within individuals, not all manifest the biochemical effects of PTH excess. This further extends to patients with established osteoporosis. The mechanism underlying the blunted PTH response is unclear but may be related to magnesium (Mg) deficiency. The aims of this study were to compare in patients with established osteoporosis and differing degrees of vitamin D and PTH status : (1) the presence of Mg deficiency using the standard Mg loading test (2) evaluate the effects of Mg loading on the calcium-PTH endocrine axis (3) determine the effects of oral, short term Mg supplementation on the calcium-PTH endocrine axis and bone turnover.


30 patients (10 women in 3 groups) were evaluated prospectively measuring calcium, PTH, Mg retention (Mg loading test), dietary nutrient intake (calcium, vitamin D, Mg) and bone turnover markers (serum CTX & P1CP). Multivariate analysis controlling for potential confounding baseline variable was undertaken for the measured outcomes.


All subjects, within the low vitamin D and low PTH group following the magnesium loading test had evidence of Mg depletion [mean(SD) retention 70.3%(12.5)] and showed an increase in calcium 0.06(0.01) mmol/l [95% CI 0.03, 0.09, p=0.007], together with a rise in PTH 13.3 ng/l (4.5) [95% CI 3.2, 23.4, p=0.016] compared to baseline. Following oral supplementation bone turnover increased: CTX 0.16 (0.06) mcg/l [95%CI 0.01, 0.32 p=0.047]; P1CP 13.1 (5.7) mcg/l [95% CI 0.29, 26.6 p=0.049]. In subjects with a low vitamin D and raised PTH mean retention was 55.9%(14.8) and in the vitamin replete group 36.1%(14.4), with little change in both acute markers of calcium homeostasis and bone turnover markers following both the loading test and oral supplementation.


This study confirms that in patients with established osteoporosis, there is also a distinct group with a low vitamin D and a blunted PTH level and that Mg deficiency (as measured by the Mg loading test) is an important contributing factor.


Functional hypoparathyroidism Magnesium Osteoporosis Secondary hyperparathyroidism Vitamin D