I am a
Home I AM A Search Login

Papers of the Week

Papers: 30 Nov 2019 - 6 Dec 2019

Animal Studies, Human Studies

2020 Apr




Functional and anatomical deficits in visceral nociception with age: mechanism of silent appendicitis in the elderly?


Cibert-Goton V, Kung VWS, McGuire C, Hockley JRF, Tranter MM, Dogra H, Belai A, Blackshaw AL, Sanger GJ, Knowles CH, Araujo EJA, Winchester WJ, Bulmer DC
Pain. 2020 Apr; 161(4):773-786.
PMID: 31790010.


The ability to sense visceral pain during appendicitis is diminished with age leading to delay in seeking healthcare and poorer clinical outcomes. To understand the mechanistic basis of this phenomenon, we examined visceral nociception in aged mouse and human tissue. Inflamed and non-inflamed appendix was collected from consenting patients undergoing surgery for the treatment of appendicitis or bowel cancer. Supernatants were generated by incubating samples in buffer and used to stimulate multiunit activity in intestinal preparations, or single unit activity from teased fibres in colonic preparations, of young and old mice. Changes in afferent innervation with age were determined by measuring the density of CGRP positive afferent fibres and by counting dorsal root ganglia back-labelled by injection of tracer dye into the wall of the colon. Finally, the effect of age on nociceptor function was studied in mouse and human colon. Afferent responses to appendicitis supernatants were greatly impaired in old mice. Further investigation revealed this was due to a marked reduction in the afferent innervation of the bowel, and a substantial impairment in the ability of the remaining afferent fibres to transduce noxious stimuli. Translational studies in human tissue demonstrated a significant reduction in the multiunit but not the single unit colonic mesenteric nerve response to capsaicin with age, indicative of a loss of nociceptor innervation. Our data demonstrates that anatomical and functional deficits in nociception occur with age, underpinning the atypical or silent presentation of appendicitis in the elderly.