Apr 9, 2018

Composed of system of connections of tissues, muscles, organs, and everything in between, the human body is indeed complex. And most of the time, the idea doesn’t hit us until, well, a new organ is discovered.

Just two weeks ago, scientists found a new organ that’s only been identified for the first time. Researchers from New York University’s (NYU) School of Medicine are calling it “interstitium.” It’s almost everywhere, just under our skin, in tissue layers surrounding the blood vessels, digestive tracts, muscles, lungs, and urinary systems.

nolisoli care new organ interstitium
Intestitium. Illustration courtesy of Jill Gregory

It was formerly thought as dense connective tissues just beneath our skin’s surface, when it’s actually interconnected, fluid-filled compartments.

“This series of spaces, supported by a meshwork of strong (collagen) and flexible (elastin) connective tissue proteins, may act like shock absorbers that keep tissues from tearing as organs, muscles, and vessels squeeze, pump, and pulse as part of daily function,” according to the NYU’s School of Medicine research paper.

Since it’s like a shock absorber, NYU’s School of Medicine professor and one of the authors of the paper Neil Theise theorizes that the interstitium’s job is to immune our bodies from harm. It’s a source of lymph, a fluid that goes through our lymphatic system and supports immunity.

Among Theise’s theories for the purpose of the interstitium is that it’s a source of lymph, a fluid that moves through the body’s lymphatic system and supports immunity. He says that knowing how diseases spread through this part of the body could help researchers better understand how cancer spreads.

“Importantly, the finding that this layer is a highway of moving fluid may explain why cancer that invades it becomes much more likely to spread.”

What’s with the organ that it’s only discovered now? Nothing much. The fault’s mainly on the scientists’ side because of the way tissue is usually studied, where they drain the tissue’s fluids.


Featured image courtesy of National Geographic

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