More than one year after Mesentry—an organ that anchors the gut to the rest of the body—was discovered, another newfound ‘organ’ has now caught the imagination of medical scientists. Researchers have detailed the structure and distribution of interstitium—fluid-filled spaces within and between tissues all over our body—which, they claim, can be called an organ.
And this could be the body’s biggest organ, displacing skin, which was considered the biggest organ in our body until now. While skin comprises about 16 percent of our body mass, interstitium covers 20 percent of the volume of the body.
According to a study published in the journal Scientific Reports, what was just thought as an ‘interesting tissue’, actually fits the definition of an organ: it has a unitary structure with a unitary function.
The new organ is known as the Interstitium and it is found everywhere in our bodies, acting as a shock absorber in all places where tissues are moved or subjected to force.
It lies beneath the top layer of skin but is also in tissue layers lining the gut, lungs, blood vessels, and muscles. The organ is a network of interconnected, fluid-filled spaces all over the body.
Scientists say it may even be one of the largest organs in the body. The organ acts as a shock absorber in all places where tissues are moved or subjected to force.
What is the organ made up of?
The organ is a network of interconnected, fluid-filled spaces all over the body and is made up of both strong (collagen) and flexible (elastin) connective tissue proteins, with interstitial fluid moving throughout.
Functions of the organ:
Interstitial spaces are organized by a collagen “mesh”, can shrink, expand, and “may thus serve as shock absorbers.”
These “dynamically compressible and distensible sinuses” act as thoroughfares to transport critical fluids within organs and around the body.
The Interstitium plays an important role in carrying lymph, the clear fluid that also travels through lymphatic vessels and supports immunity.