Magnesium is important for the immune system so that it can fight off pathogens and cancer cells. In the specialized journal Cell, researchers explain why some immune cells, T cells, need enough magnesium for this.
On a low-magnesium diet, test animals have weak immune defenses against influenza viruses, and cancer cells spread faster. The reason for this has now been clarified: Magnesium is important so that the docking point on T cells can recognize infected or diseased cells, because it keeps this “antenna” in an active state. If there is little magnesium, it “bends” and cannot perform its function.
This observation could play a role in the use of modern cancer immunotherapies that mobilize the immune system, especially T cells, to fight cancer cells. In experiments, researchers were able to show that the T-cell immune response against cancer cells is enhanced when the amount of magnesium in tumors increases. Researchers know from studies of cancer patients that have already been completed that immunotherapies are less effective in patients with magnesium deficiency. The research team is now looking at ways to specifically increase the concentration of magnesium in tumors. However, it has not been clarified whether regular magnesium intake has an effect on cancer risk.
Dr. Jonas Lötscher from the Department of Biomedicine at the University of Basel explains the additional project: “As a next step, we plan future studies to test the clinical effect of magnesium as a stimulator of the immune system.”
Which: DOI 10.1016 / j.cell.2021.12.039