Digestive Diseases and Sciences

, Volume 56, Issue 2, pp 352–358 | Cite as

Gender- and Age-Related Differences in Muscular and Nerve-Mediated Responses in Human Colon

  • M. A. Maselli
  • P. Trisolini
  • I. Demma
  • F. Pezzolla
  • F. De Ponti
Original Article



Gender- and age-related differences in muscular and nerve-mediated responses in human colon are poorly characterized. We studied carbachol-induced motor responses and electrically evoked contractions in sigmoid circular muscle from adult and elderly patients of different gender.


Sigmoid colon segments were obtained from 24 men and 16 women undergoing left hemicolectomy for colon cancer. Isometric tension was measured on muscle strips exposed to increasing carbachol concentrations. The effects of atropine, guanethidine, l-nitro arginine methyl ester (l-NAME), and tetrodotoxin on electrically evoked contractions were also studied.


Female patients showed higher maximal response to carbachol than male patients, elderly females being the most sensitive to carbachol among all patient groups. Electrically evoked contractions were linearly related to stimulation frequency and abolished by tetrodotoxin. Electrically evoked contractions were significantly more pronounced in elderly male patients; they were reduced by atropine and guanethidine and increased by l-nitro arginine methyl ester in the presence of atropine and guanethidine (P < 0.05). The effect of l-NAME was most marked in elderly male patients and least pronounced in elderly females.


The response to carbachol and the role of nitrergic pathways differ according to age and gender; this may depend on muscarinic receptor upregulation or humoral factors affecting nitric oxide release, respectively.


Gender Age Motility in vitro Human colon 



We wish to thank Dr. Maria Lucia Caruso for her collaboration in the study as a pathologist. The research was supported by Italian Ministry of Health Grant A/3145.

Conflict of interest

None declared


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  • M. A. Maselli
    • 1
  • P. Trisolini
    • 1
  • I. Demma
    • 2
  • F. Pezzolla
    • 2
  • F. De Ponti
    • 3
  1. 1.Experimental Pharmacology LaboratoryScientific Institute of Gastroenterology “S. de Bellis”Castellana GrotteItaly
  2. 2.Surgery DepartmentScientific Institute of Gastroenterology “S. de Bellis”Castellana GrotteItaly
  3. 3.Department of PharmacologyUniversity of BolognaBolognaItaly

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