Scientists think they found a new human organ—a fluid-filled “shock absorber”


Huh, never seen that before. Getty/AFP
Newly identified networks of interconnected, fluid-filled chambers that line tissues throughout the human body may qualify as a completely new organ, researchers report in a study published Tuesday in Scientific Reports.

Beth Mole | ars TECHNICA

Researchers found the web-like tissue on the underside of skin, around the digestive tract, bladder, lungs, arteries, and within muscles. They speculate that the tissues—dubbed the “interstitium”—may act as “shock absorbers,” allowing our organs to swell and compress as we go about our business of breathing, eating, and living in general. The fluid it contains may also play heretofore unappreciated roles in basic biology and disease. For instance, the liquid could act as a conduit for cellular signals or harmful molecules, play a role in the development of edema (excessive fluid retention in tissues), and even help cancer cells spread.

The finding may “necessitate reconsideration of many of the normal functional activities of different organs and of disordered fluid dynamics in the setting of disease,” the authors conclude. And preliminary data “raises the possibility that direct sampling of the interstitial fluid could be a diagnostic tool,” they add.

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