The Interstitium

By: Aambar Agarwal

Researchers have recently discovered a new part of the human anatomy- the interstitium. It’s quite surprising that a body part was just discovered, especially when one considers all that scientists know about the human body in this day and age. Here’s what you should know about this discovery:

  • The interstitium is a network of fluid-filled spaces that is supported by a lattice of collagen and elastin connective tissue.
  • It can be found all over the body, including in or near the lungs, skin, digestive tracts, urinary system, and arteries.
  • Researchers believe that the interstitium acts as a shock absorber to protect the tissues during daily functions.
  • It might also be a channel for fluids to enter the lymphatic system. This means that it could spread diseases through the body, as well as help cancers metastasize.
  • Before, scientists believed that this tissue was a dense wall of collagen due to the way they readied their slides. When scientists prepared tissue samples, they treated it with chemicals, cut them into thin slices, and dye them. This process drained the liquid and caused the newfound spaces to collapse.
  • To find the interstitium, researchers used a new imaging technique that allows them to examine living tissues on a microscopic level.
  • Currently, it is being debated whether or not it is an organ. The scientists that discovered the interstitium believe that it is, but for a body part to be an organ, an agreement would need to develop around the idea as more researchers study it.

Organ or not, understanding the interstitium could lead to significant breakthroughs in cancer treatment.

Source: Interstitium picture