The effect of magnesium chloride or magnesium sulfate infusion on circulating levels of immunoreactive calcitonin (iCT) was evaluated on nine occasions in three patients with metastatic medullary carcinoma of the thyroid. One patient was normocalcemic and had normal circulating levels of immunoreactive parathyroid hormone (iPTH), one patient was hypocalcemic and had surgical hypoparathyroidism, and one patient had mild to moderate hypercalcemia associated with bone metastases. The basal serum iPTH levels were undetectable in the latter two patients. In every instance magnesium administration produced a rapid and striking fall in circulating iCT and usually a detectable fall in serum calcium. During the hypermagnesemic state, serum iPTH fell from normal to undetectable in the patient with normal parathyroid function, while serum iPTH levels remained undetectable in the hypoparathyroid patient and in the patient with hypercalcemia associated with bone metastases. The results of these studies indicate that: (a) contrary to what has been reported in normal experimental animals, magnesium administration lowers circulating iCT in human subjects with thyroid medullary carcinoma and (b) the calcium-lowering effect produced by magnesium in patients with medullary carcinoma may, in part at least, be due to a redistribution of body calcium that is not mediated by the actions of either parathyroid hormone or clacitonin.
C Anast, L David, J Winnacker, R Glass, W Baskin, L Brubaker, T Burns