Interstitium: The undiscovered organ in our body

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It appears that the unusual patterns are in fact channels through which fluid moves throughout the body.

While the fluid-carrying channels have not been officially designated an organ by a majority of scientists, Neil Theise of New York University's School of Medicine says the interstitium holds almost a fifth of the body's fluids.

As per the report, researchers say the network that carries this interstitial fluid is its own distinct organ and it may even be one of the largest organs in the body.

A newfound organ, the interstitium, is seen here beneath the top layer of skin, but is also in tissue layers lining the gut, lungs, and urinary systems, as well as those surrounding blood vessels and the fascia between muscles.

A team of researchers at the NYU School of Medicine were experimenting with new microscopic technology to get a fresh perspective on the human body. It's a network of tissues, below the skin's surface that containes fluid-filled structures.

It is also now believed that these channels may spread cancer, with malignant cells floating through them directly toward the lymphatic system on what Theise called a "water slide" effect.

You might not feel any different, but scientists claim to have discovered a new organ inside you. Last year, an Irish surgeon discovered the mesentery, which connects the intestine to the abdomen. "Previously, scientists thought the layer was simply dense connective tissue".

They say the interstitium is not just a bunch of collagen walls between cells; instead, they are dynamic, fluid-filled spaces that aid in important functions.

Mount Sinai Beth Israel Medical Center medics Dr David Carr-Locke and Dr Petros Benias came across the "interstitium" while investigating a patient's bile duct, searching for signs of cancer.

Prof Theise said: "This finding has potential to drive dramatic advances in medicine, including the possibility that the direct sampling of interstitial fluid may become a powerful diagnostic tool".

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. Historically, doctors have had to remove tissues from the body in order to evaluate the interstitium.