Intracellular magnesium detection by fluorescent indicators

Valentina Trapani, M Schweigel Röntgen, Achille Renato Maria Cittadini, Federica Wolf Minotti

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Magnesium is essential for a wide variety of biochemical reactions and physiological functions, but its regulatory mechanisms (both at the cellular and at the systemic level) are still poorly characterized. Not least among the reasons for this gap are the technical difficulties in sensing minor changes occurring over a high background concentration. Specific fluorescent indicators are highly sensitive tools for dynamic evaluation of intracellular magnesium concentration. We herein discuss the main criteria to consider when choosing a magnesium-specific fluorescent indicator and provide examples among commercial as well as developmental sensors. We focus on spectrofluorimetric approaches to quantify Mg(2+) concentration in cell or mitochondria suspensions, and on imaging techniques to detect intracellular magnesium distribution and fluxes by live microscopy, reporting a detailed description of standard protocols for each method. The general guidelines we provide should be applicable to specific issues by any researcher in the field.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)421-444
Number of pages24
JournalMethods in Enzymology
Publication statusPublished - 2012


  • Animals
  • Biosensing Techniques
  • Cell Tracking
  • Cells
  • Epithelial Cells
  • Fluorescent Dyes
  • Magnesium
  • Microscopy, Confocal
  • Mitochondria
  • Rumen
  • Sheep
  • Spectrometry, Fluorescence


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