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Scand J Gastroenterol. 2000 Oct;35(10):1041-7.

Effects of age on proximal gastric motor and sensory function.

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  • 1Dept. of Medicine, University of Adelaide, Royal Adelaide Hospital, South Australia, Australia.



Healthy aging is associated with a reduction in appetite and food intake, which may predispose to pathologic weight loss and malnutrition. Changes in intragastric mechanisms mediating satiation in the elderly have not been studied. The aim of this study was to evaluate the effects of aging on i) fasting gastric compliance and the perception of gastric distension, and ii) food intake and gastric accommodation to a meal.


Five healthy older (aged 68-73 years) and five healthy young (aged 22-27 years) men, matched for body mass index, were each studied on three occasions after an overnight fast. On one day ('barostat day'), isovolumetric and isobaric distensions of the proximal stomach were performed, and meal-induced changes in intrabag volume were measured with an electronic barostat. On another day ('tube-only day') subjects were intubated with a nasogastric tube without an intragastric bag before the meal. On the 3rd day (control day) subjects were given the meal without intubation. Energy intake from the buffet meal was quantified, and perceptions assessed using visual analogue questionnaires.


During both isobaric and isovolumetric distensions the pressure-volume relationship did not differ significantly between older and young subjects. During gastric distensions perceptions of fullness (P < 0.01), abdominal discomfort (P < 0.05), and bloating (P < 0.05) were less in older than young subjects, whereas the perception of hunger (P < 0.05) was less in the young than in older subjects. There was no difference in energy intake (P = 0.44) between young and older subjects. Food intake was less on the barostat day (P < 0.01) and the tube-only day (P < 0.01) than on the control day in young subjects but was not affected by the different study conditions in the older subjects. After the meal the maximum intrabag volume occurred later in the older than in the young subjects (105 +/- 4 min versus 36 +/- 8 min; P < 0.05), and the intrabag volume change was greater (P = 0.05) in the older than the young subjects later in the postprandial period.


Healthy aging is associated with decreased perception of gastric distension without any change in fasting gastric compliance and with reduced gastric tone late in the postprandial period when compared with the young. Control of food intake is less sensitive to external stimuli in older than in young subjects.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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