Meet the Interstitium, the Largest Organ We Never Knew We Had

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An anonymous reader quotes a report from The Daily Beast: A study published in Scientific Reports on Tuesday suggests that a previously unknown organ has been found in the human body. More astonishingly, the paper puts forth the idea that this new organ is the largest by volume among all 80 organs -- if what the researchers found is, in fact, an organ. The new organ, [pathologist Neil Theise] explained, was a thin layer of dense connective tissue throughout the body, sandwiched just under our skin and within the middle layer of every visceral organ. The organ also made up all the fascia, or the thin mesh of tissue separating every muscle and all the tissue around every vein and artery, from largest to smallest. What initially seemed to be a solid, dense, connective tissue layer was actually a complex network of fluid-filled cavities that are strong and flexible, yet so tiny and undiscerning that they escaped the attention of the brightest scientific minds for generations. In fact, Theise expanded, this "interstitium" could explain many of modern medicine's mysteries, often dismissed by the establishment as either silly or explainable by other phenomena. Take acupuncture, Theise said -- that energetic healing jolt may be traced to the interstitium. Or perhaps the interstitium acted as a "shock absorber," something that protected other organs and muscles in daily function. Also, the space is in direct communication with the lymphatic system as the origin of lymph fluid -- which means the interstitium's system of fluid-filled backroads could explain the metastasis of cancer cells and their quick spread beyond the limits of the organ in which the cancer started.

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