Gallbladder and gastric motility in obese newborns, pre-adolescents and adults

J Gastroenterol Hepatol. 2012 Aug;27(8):1298-305. doi: 10.1111/j.1440-1746.2012.07149.x.


Background and aim: Impaired gallbladder and gastric motility have been associated with obesity in adults. The timing of appearance of this dysfunction, however, is unclear.

Methods: Lean and obese subjects from three different age groups were studied noninvasively: 50 newborns (1-12 months old, six obese), 18 pre-adolescents (7-8 years old, seven obese), and 99 adults (22-80 years old, 32 obese) classified according to standard normal tables and body mass index. Changes of fasting/postprandial gallbladder and gastric motility were assessed simultaneously by functional ultrasonography in response to milk (newborns and pre-adolescents) and to a liquid test meal (adults).

Results: In newborns, fasting and postprandial gallbladder volumes and gastric emptying were similar between obese and lean subjects. In pre-adolescents, obese subjects had a larger fasting gallbladder volume, with slower postprandial gastric emptying than lean subjects. In obese adults, the most evident dysfunction emerged, with larger fasting and postprandial residual gallbladder volume, and slower postprandial gastric emptying than lean subjects.

Conclusions: Obese subjects display abnormal gallbladder and gastric motility patterns, which first appear in pre-adolescents and deteriorate in adults. Such abnormalities are absent in obese newborns. Functional ultrasonography can detect altered cholecysto-gastric motility at the earliest stage. Our findings suggest an age-related decline of motility, probably secondary to excessive fat and insulin-resistance.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Age Factors
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Aging*
  • Analysis of Variance
  • Beverages
  • Child
  • Diagnostic Techniques, Digestive System
  • Disease Progression
  • Eating
  • Fasting
  • Female
  • Gallbladder / diagnostic imaging
  • Gallbladder / physiopathology*
  • Gallbladder Emptying*
  • Gastric Emptying*
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Kinetics
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Obesity / diagnostic imaging
  • Obesity / physiopathology*
  • Postprandial Period
  • Stomach / diagnostic imaging
  • Stomach / physiopathology*
  • Ultrasonography
  • Young Adult