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Indexed under : Life Sciences / Human Body

Wikenigma - an Encyclopedia of Unknowns Wikenigma - an Encyclopedia of the Unknown

The Interstitium

In 2018, a research team from NYU School of Medicine published a paper in the journal Scientific Reports, entitled : Structure and Distribution of an Unrecognized Interstitium in Human Tissues.

The paper described what is now known as the Interstitium - a contiguous network of interconnected fluid-filled spaces below the skin's surface, lining the digestive tract, lungs and urinary systems, and surrounding arteries, veins, and thefasciaplugin-autotooltip__plain plugin-autotooltip_bigThe Fascia

Fascia are whitish bands or sheets of connective tissue - mainly composed of collagen and fat, which stabilises, encloses, and separates muscles and other internal organs.

It's exact definition has been much disputed over the years. Aside from 'compartmentaā€¦

For many years, anatomists had overlooked the interconnection of interstitial spaces - largely because of their dependence on the examination of dry, fixed tissue on microscope slides.

The fluid in the Interstitium - comprised of water and solutes, cytokines, hormones and other proteins etc. - may account for as much as 20% of the body weight.

It's now thought that the interstitium is :

  • a reservoir and transportation system for nutrients and solutes among organs, cells, and capillaries.
  • a conduit for signaling molecules communicating between cells.
  • a route for antigens and cytokines participating in immune regulation.

It's also thought that the interstitium may be of crucial importance in the progress of disease - e.g. in the transport and metastasis of cancer cells.

Much more research. however, is needed to clarify its full list of functions and their medical implications.

Note: Some research teams have suggested that the interstitium should be thought-of as a bodily 'organ' - though the definition of an 'organ' is at present quite vague (ref.), and some other researchers have rejected the idea (ref.)

Also see : The Mesenteryplugin-autotooltip__plain plugin-autotooltip_bigThe Mesentery

"The mesentery is a continuous set of tissues which is formed by the double fold of peritoneum that attaches the intestines to the wall of the abdomen. ['..] It has been proposed for reclassification as an organ due to research at the University of Limerā€¦
(another recently discovered 'organ')

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