Scientists have discovered a ‘new organ’
Originally, the layers of connective tissues found throughout our bodies were thought to be just that and little more, but with the advancement of technology, scientists have found something much more intriguing.
Say hello to what’s now considered one of the largest organs in the body – an interconnected chain of fluid-filled compartments that’s being called the “interstitium,” as described in a recent study published in Scientific Reports.
The interstitium has been described as “highways of moving fluid”. These compartments are found underneath the skin between muscles, surrounding arteries and veins and lining the lungs, digestive and urinary tracts.
Until now, most tissues have been analyzed under microscope slides. The problem with this technique is that the preparation of the tissues causes fluid loss. Therefore, this newfound component has been going unnoticed and under-researched for years, as it has been overlooked under the microscope with traditional preparations.
The invention of what’s called probe-based confocal laser endomicroscopy is what led scientists to this discovery. The technology provides an advanced microscopic view of the tissues and their fluid.
The specific function of the organ network is still being researched, but scientists are certain the fluid-filled compartments drain into the lymphatic system. Therefore, they say it may affect major diseases and lead to innovative ways to treat cancer, limb stiffness, inflammatory diseases and age-related health issues.
“The system is made of lymphatic vessels that carry a clear fluid called lymph to the lymph nodes before emptying into our heart. How this fluid interacts with the interstitium may unlock keys to cancer spreading and help us target our therapies better.”
The study points out that this might explain why cancer that gets into our lymph nodes spreads so quickly.
About the Author
Jamie Bonnema, health enews contributor, is a specialist of public affairs and marketing at Advocate Christ Medical Center in Oak Lawn. She earned her BA in communications from DePaul University in Chicago. In her free time, she enjoys hiking, going to concerts, and cheering on the Chicago Cubs.