Interstitium Facts: Newfound Organ Likely The Biggest In Human Body

The interstitium is an organ that was recently discovered by researchers in the human body. A research, published in the journal Scientific Reports on Tuesday, stated a network of dense connective tissues and fluid-filled compartments has been termed interstitium, and is likely the biggest organ found in the human body.

“Initially, we were just thinking it’s an interesting tissue, but when you actually delve into how people define organs, it sort of runs around one or two ideas: that it has a unitary structure or that it’s a tissue with a unitary structure, or it’s a tissue with a unitary function,” said Dr. Neil Theise, professor of pathology at NYU Langone Health in New York, who was a co-senior author of the study.

“This has both,” he said of the interstitium. “This structure is the same wherever you look at it, and so are the functions that we’re starting to elucidate.”

The organ is a “previously unappreciated fluid-filled interstitial space, draining to lymph nodes and supported by a complex network of thick collagen bundles,” according to the study’s authors.

“Interstitial” is a Latin word combining “inter” or “between,” and “sistere” or “to place,” which literally means “between the other places.”

Scientists came across the newfound organ during endoscopies — a non-surgical procedure in which doctors use a small camera attached to a tube to examine the gastrointestinal tract. Living human tissue images could be seen after sensors analyzed the resulting fluorescent patterns.

As part of the study, researchers collected tissue from 12 cancer patients when they removed the pancreas and the bile duct.

“This fixation artifact of collapse has made a fluid-filled tissue type throughout the body appear solid in biopsy slides for decades, and our results correct for this to expand the anatomy of most tissues,” Theise said in the statement. “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.”

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