The purpose of this study was to determine the changes in rat gastric functional morphology that take place with age and to study the action of colloidal bismuth subcitrate on the age related degeneration of the stomach. At 95 weeks of age erosions were apparent over 80% of the gastric mucosa and this was associated with a significant decline in the numbers and mucus content of the mucosal epithelial cells. The rate of stem cell proliferation in the neck region was also significantly lower than that found in 9 week old animals. The administration of 50 mg/kg colloidal bismuth subcitrate for 14 days to 9 week old animals resulted in slight hypertrophy of the mucosal epithelial cells. When 95 week animals were placed on the same regimen there was a decline in the number of deep erosions in the mucosa and an increase in the number and mucin content of the mucosal epithelial cells. A significant increase in the proliferation of the stem cell population was also observed after colloidal bismuth subcitrate administration. It is suggested that colloidal bismuth subcitrate may ameliorate the increased susceptibility to harmful agents that occurs with age.
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