Eldery Innards - a Human Physiology Question

An odd question came to mind the other day and I know just the folks to share it with …

Looking at a healthy 20, 40, 60, or 80 year old human from the outside, the differences are pretty obvious. So … Do they look much different on the inside? If you opened up their belly cavity, would their livers look the same at each age? Lungs? Spleen? Stomach lining? If you took a cross section of leg or of brain could you see a difference that you could ascribe to aging?

I’m assuming here no particular disease presence in the older folks, just accumulated typical mileage.

I’m interested in macro-scale things a trained eye could see without magnification. But I’d also be curious if there’s any visible structural changes at the *magnifying glass to good microscope *scale either.

This curiosity was an offshoot of me musing about the scale of aging. I was thinking about whether aging is a process at the gross scale, the magnifying glass scale, the per-cell scale, the organelle scale, or the molecular scale? Clearly changes at one level will have effects at others, there are feedback loops, etc. So I’m not expecting there is any pat answer. The wiki http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aging is pretty informative but is silent on my main question: the gross appearance of major systems as we age.
Any medical types care to share some knowledge & anecdote?

There are many changes that occur from aging. For instance, the cellularity of your bone marrow decreases by 10% every decade throughout your life until it reaches about 15-20%. The normally occurring erythropoetic and myeloid stem cell precursors get replaces by fat and fibrosis. That means that you become less and less able to produce new blood cells to replace ones lost from trauma/disease/etc.

There are quite a few changes in all organ systems, however.

Oh that’s just great. It is bad enough how my outsides look at age 83. Now I have visions of how old and withered my innards are.

I’m about to turn 65, and I’d be very surprised if anything in my body is indistinguishable from what it looked like when I was 20.

Here are the body parts that have obviously changed: skin, brain, bones, teeth, eyes, muscles, feet, knees, pancreas, liver, appendix, hair, vocal cords, spine, esophagus, kidneys, hands, hearing components, blood, cartilage, tendons, etc., etc., etc.

Actually, it was exactly that image that motivated my question. I figured that if an elderly liver or intestine looked as wrinkly and spotty as elderly skin, I doubted it’d work well enough to keep someone alive. Since they do keep old folks alive I figured they had to look enough better than that. But how much better?

I just came home from a fine dinner that my 85 year old MIL made for us. She’s a lotta wrinkly, but still goin’ strong. Nothing much wrong with her innards (or appetite, or thinking, or …) as far as anyone can tell.

Hang in there Geoff; we’re all rootin’ for ya.

But her skin is working well enough to keep her alive.

Does the ring of fat around me count? :frowning:

Maybe we could learn something from turtles. Apparently some of them don’t seem to be getting old in the innards at all, at all…

Can Turtles Live Forever?
http://discovermagazine.com/2002/jun/featturtle

Thanks, LSLGuy I’ll try to keep plugging along. Hey, does your MIL still date? :smiley:

You know, I was thinking that it might be interesting if you contacted some organ donation organization to see just what organs, if any, they accept from geezers. I would guess that the corneas might be the only one, but wonder if heart, kidney, liver, etc would be acceptable.

Me, I’m looking for a WBT (Whole Body Transplant).

When my great-grandmother died at 88, Mom was approached by organ donation people. She thought they were insane, but apparently even at that age you can still donate part of the eye.