A newly discovered network of fluid-filled channels in the human body may be a previously-unknown organ, and it seems to help transport cancer cells around the body.
Structure and Distribution of an Unrecognized Interstitium in Human Tissues
Petros C. Benias, Rebecca G. Wells, Bridget Sackey-Aboagye, Heather Klavan, Jason Reidy, Darren Buonocore, Markus Miranda, Susan Kornacki, Michael Wayne, David L. Carr-Locke & Neil D. Theise
Scientific Reports, volume 8, Article number: 4947 (2018)
Published online: 27 March 2018
Confocal laser endomicroscopy (pCLE) provides real-time histologic imaging of human tissues at a depth of 60–70 μm during endoscopy. pCLE of the extrahepatic bile duct after fluorescein injection demonstrated a reticular pattern within fluorescein-filled sinuses that had no known anatomical correlate. Freezing biopsy tissue before fixation preserved the anatomy of this structure, demonstrating that it is part of the submucosa and a previously unappreciated fluid-filled interstitial space, draining to lymph nodes and supported by a complex network of thick collagen bundles. These bundles are intermittently lined on one side by fibroblast-like cells that stain with endothelial markers and vimentin, although there is a highly unusual and extensive unlined interface between the matrix proteins of the bundles and the surrounding fluid. We observed similar structures in numerous tissues that are subject to intermittent or rhythmic compression, including the submucosae of the entire gastrointestinal tract and urinary bladder, the dermis, the peri-bronchial and peri-arterial soft tissues, and fascia. These anatomic structures may be important in cancer metastasis, edema, fibrosis, and mechanical functioning of many or all tissues and organs. In sum, we describe the anatomy and histology of a previously unrecognized, though widespread, macroscopic, fluid-filled space within and between tissues, a novel expansion and specification of the concept of the human interstitium.
What baffles me is that new human organs can possibly be discovered today.