Whether or not the gastric mucosa undergoes significant changes in normal aging subjects is still open to debate. In 51 subjects undergoing endoscopy and lacking any significant endoscopic or histologic modification we evaluated mucosal thickness, gland number, numbers of parietal, chief and mucous cells at the fundus and of mucopeptic cells at the antrum, with a morphometric method, subgrouping the patients according to their age class. Our findings demonstrate that the number of parietal cells tends to increase with age and, on the other hand, the number of mucous cells is reduced in elderly subjects (p < 0.05). When considering the parietal-to-mucous cell ratio, this is significantly increased (p = 0.0005) with age. Acid secretion being an offensive factor and mucus a fundamental component of the gastric mucosal barrier, these findings suggest an increased susceptibility of the gastric mucosa to damage in the elderly. Â© 1993 S. Karger AG, Basel.
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