Discovered a new organ of the human body: the interstitium

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Carlos Laforet Coll
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A discovery that could revolutionize the world of medicine, since, made up of liquid and fiber, the newly discovered organ could explain why some cancers spread faster.

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It would be found under the skin and inside other connective tissues: the so-called "interstitium" organ has just been identified and recognized as part of the body in itself. A discovery that broadens human anatomy and could revolutionize the world of medicine, since, made up of liquid and fibers, the very interstitium could explain why some tumors spread faster or why acupuncture works, for example. .

The new organ, technically called "interstitium", is in fact - as the name implies - a detail space formed by an aqueous solution, found under the skin in certain layers of tissue that connect the intestines, lungs, urinary system, and other organs.

To discover its existence was a research group led by the School of Medicine of the University of New York, which, using a particular technique, visualized this new anatomical structure, capable of holding together the various parts of the body. The study is published in Scientific Reports.

In reality, the interstitium was already known to scientists, but they had always classified it as simple "connective tissue" and therefore remained "in the shadows" due to the procedures used to examine it under the microscope, which made it appear erroneously dense and compact .

This time it was observed differently thanks to a new technique of “laser confocal endomicroscopy”, with which live tissues are seen under the microscope directly in the body, without having to take them and fix them on a slide. Used on cancer patients who had to undergo surgery to remove pancreas and bile duct, with this method - which allows to visualize the fluid in the tissues - the real structure of the interstitium was observed, which was then recognized also in all the other parts of the body subjected to continuous movements and pressures and thus risen to the role of "organ in itself".

A systematic review

The researchers practically applied the technique of "laser confocal endomicroscopy" on human tissue samples of the bile duct, taken during surgery to remove tumors, and compared these images with those of other samples at 60-70 micrometers (thousandths of a millimeter) under the skin, under the gastrointestinal mucosa, around the bladder and other organs.

Based on the results, the American scientists have identified interstitial spaces in the tissues, which are visible cavities in which the interstitial fluid flows: these spaces represent real "anatomical shock absorbersOf impacts that prevent organs, muscles and blood vessels from being crushed or lacerated. These interstices form a large channel, like a sort of highway, which runs along the body and protects the tissues.

"This result could be the basis for drastic advances in the medical field - explained author Neil Theise of the Department of Pathology at Nyu Langone Health - including the possibility that these interstitial fluid samples become an effective diagnostic tool".

Indeed, the implications of the new discovery do not appear to be irrelevant. According to the authors, these structures could also play a key role in the greater or lesser spread of cancer cells and therefore in the progression of tumors, but also in skin aging (since the interstitium is located immediately under the epidermis), in stiffening of the limbs and in some inflammatory diseases. But also better understand how acupuncture works and works.

Germana Carillo

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