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Interstitium Facts: Newfound Organ Likely The Biggest In Human Body
29 March 2018, 01:49 | Violet Powell
Fluid-filled channels may cushion our organsCNRI SCIENCE
"In sum, while typical descriptions of the interstitium suggest spaces between cells, we describe macroscopically visible spaces within tissues-dynamically compressible and distensible sinuses through which interstitial fluid flows around the body".
Dr Theise said: "This fixation artefact of collapse has made a fluid-filled tissue type throughout the body appear solid in biopsy slides for decades, and our results correct for this to expand the anatomy of most tissues".
In a news release, they also noted that the organ acts as a sort of "shock absorber" that protects the body's tissues from tearing, "as organs, muscles, and vessels squeeze, pump, and pulse as part of daily function". An organ is a group of different tissues that work together to carry out a specific function.
Image of fresh-frozen human bile duct (left) shows collagen bundles in blue; the asterisks mark fluid-filled spaces of the interstitium.
Scientists have long known about the body's various interstitial spaces between cells, but its importance was never quite understood. They took their findings to Neil Theise, a pathologist at New York University School of Medicine. But this process causes the fluid-filled cavities to collapse. According to the researchers, this occurs because these fluid-filled spaces are a source of a fluid called lymph and drain into the lymphatic system.
They say the interstitium plays an important role in carrying lymph, the clear fluid that also travels through lymphatic vessels and that supports immunity.
To other scientists, the findings are promising, but more research still needs to be done around the interstitium.
Using a newer technology called probe-based confocal laser encomicroscopy, the researchers were able to view living tissues instead of fixed ones. The discovery of the instrument was done with the help of a confocal laser intrasung microscope, which "sees" the living tissues.
"This discovery is extremely exciting because we've defined novel microanatomy and have laid the groundwork for how this may begin to explain cancer spread, inflammation and scarring of connective tissue", said study co-lead author Dr. Petros Constantinos Benias, from the Feinstein Institute and Donald and Barbara Zucker School of Medicine at Hofstra/Northwell Health.
Normally, scientists slice thin samples of tissue and then dye them so they can be seen better.
This organ is believed to be the reason for the spread of cancer and that is why the researchers think that interstitium can help develop new tests for cancer.
The organ's role in the spread of cancer is a major question: The scientists say the little chambers form a "highway of moving fluid". He adds that the concept of a fluid-filled matrix is not "earth-shattering", and that sectioning and imaging unfixed tissue as the authors did, which could tear and create artifacts, presents limitations.
On a fundamental level, it says, "our findings necessitate reconsideration of numerous normal functional activities of different organs and of disordered fluid dynamics in the setting of disease, including fibrosis and metastasis" - that is, the spread of cancer.
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