An Entire Organ That Mainstream Medicine Missed?
Findings recently published in Scientific Reports have led to what many believe is the discovery of a previously unidentified organ in the human body. The “interstitium,” a layer of fluid-like compartments made of connective tissue lining the skin, muscles, digestive and urinary tracts, and parts of the cardiopulmonary system, now rivals the skin as the body’s largest organ.
A Chance Discovery
Up until recently, the technology necessary to view this organ in action didn’t exist. In 2015, two doctors at Beth Israel Medical Center were performing an endoscopy using a new laser-based technology for viewing living cells, searching for cancer in a patient’s bile duct. They found tissue in the submucosal level that they were unable to identify. Further investigation led to the finding of a systemic structure involving multiple organs bound by a previously undiscovered type of connective tissue. By removing the fluid from that tissue, researchers were able to isolate and view it under a microscope.
The body has long been known to contain a significant amount of “interstitial” fluid, but no one had been able to specifically isolate where that fluid actually circulated. These new findings show that a fine network made out of collagen and elastin not only houses interstitial fluid, but also circulates it throughout the body.
Body’s Most Important Organ… Just Discovered?
Researchers believe the interstitium may have multiple functions. On a basic level, the tissue works to protect organs from the stress of day-to-day movement. The fluid absorbs shock, and the mesh of strong and flexible connective tissue holding it creates the elasticity necessary to protect organs from tearing and other types of stress- and movement-related damage.
Even more importantly, the interstitium may play key roles in how the body ages, develops inflammatory diseases, and spreads cancer between organs. As research continues, more about this amazing “new” organ is likely to emerge.
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