Age-Related Changes in the Gastrointestinal Tract

  • Nefertiti A. Brown
  • Joshua L. Levine
  • Michael E. Zenilman


The multitude of changes that take place in the gastrointestinal tract throughout the life of a human have various clinical and surgical repercussions. Although our knowledge of age-related changes is growing, their consequences are still the subject of much debate and controversy. One problem when assessing the effects of aging on humans is the extreme physiologic ­variability seen among elderly individuals. As individuals age, differences among them increase, such as those relating to the genetic distinctions, exposure to toxins, and environmental, psychological, and physical factors. Additionally, it becomes increasingly difficult and to isolate control groups of healthy subjects because the elderly commonly have multiple medical problems. Many of these illnesses, such as diabetes, tend to confound study outcomes by adversely affecting the organs studied. Another obstacle to study age-related changes involves the vast reserve capacity with which to the human body is endowed. Some areas of the gastrointestinal tract and liver are capable of handling many times the quantitative functional capacity required during normal life and compensate well for normal physiological loss with aging, which makes it difficult to detect age-related changes in function even though they may be apparent on a microscopic level.


Gastric Emptying Proliferate Cell Nuclear Antigen Familial Adenomatous Polyposis Lower Esophageal Sphincter Gastric Acid Secretion 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  • Nefertiti A. Brown
    • 1
  • Joshua L. Levine
  • Michael E. Zenilman
  1. 1.Department of SurgerySUNY Downstate Medical CenterBrooklynUSA

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