Ageing and small-bowel mucosa: A morphometric study

G. R. Corazza, M. Frazzoni, M. Gatto, G. Gasbarrini

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


A direct effect of ageing in reducing mucosal surface area of the small intestine is still disputed. The aim of this study was to morphometrically evaluate a panel of jejunal biopsy specimens obtained from 16 elderly patients and 22 younger controls, all complaining of abdominal symptoms but without evidence of malabsorption and/or malnutrition in either group. Quantitative histology was performed by calculating the surface area to volume ratio of jejunal mucosa and the mean enterocyte height. The mean of surface to volume ratios in geriatric patients (97.6 ± 18), although slightly reduced, did not significantly differ from that of younger controls (107.6 ± 26) and no significant correlation was found between surface to volume ratio and age in years. The mean enterocyte height in the elderly group (30.1 ± 1.2 μm) did not significantly differ from that of younger controls (31.3 ± 2.3 μm). In conclusion, the frequent finding of malnutrition due to malabsorption in the elderly should not be attributed to a reduction of jejunal surface area as a mere consequence of age.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)60-65
Number of pages6
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1986


  • Quantitative histology
  • Small intestine

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ageing
  • Geriatrics and Gerontology


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