The results of a new study published in Scientific Reports argue that layers of the body thought to be dense tissues—below the skin’s surface, lining the digestive tract and lungs, and surrounding arteries, veins, and the fascia between muscles—are instead interconnected, fluid-filled compartments.
The lead author of that study, Neil D. Theise, MD, professor in the Department of Pathology at NYU Langone Health, says this series of spaces, supported by a meshwork of strong, flexible connective tissue proteins, may act like shock absorbers that keep tissues from tearing as organs, muscles, and vessels squeeze, pump, and pulse as part of daily function. He also suggests that this layer is a highway of moving fluid may explain why cancer that invades it becomes much more likely to spread. It could also contribute to the wrinkling of skin, the stiffening of limbs, and the progression of fibrotic, sclerotic, and inflammatory diseases, says Dr. Theise.
“No one saw these spaces before because of the medical field’s dependence on the examination of fixed tissue on microscope slides, believed to offer the most accurate view of biological reality,” Dr. Theise tells The New York Times. “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 this to expand the anatomy of tissues.”
Read more from The New York Times.