A Totally New Type of Blood Vessel Has Been Discovered Hidden in Human Bones

A Totally New Type of Blood Vessel Has Been Discovered Hidden in Human Bones

We often think of bone as something that is structurally solid, especially its hard outer layer, called cortical bone.

But a new discovery of never-before-seen hidden passages traversing these rigid organs in both animals and humans could lead to a rethink of the structure and function of basic skeletal anatomy.

In a new study, researchers in Germany report finding a previously undetected network of fine blood vessels that act like a secret tunnelling system inside bone, helping blood and immune cells spread efficiently and rapidly throughout the body.

Elon Musk would probably approve.

“It is really unexpected being able to find a new and central anatomical structure that has not been described in any textbook in the 21st century,” explains molecular immunologist Matthias Gunzer from the University of Duisburg-Essen.

These tiny canals, called ‘trans-cortical vessels’ (TCVs), may be new to science, but they help explain how emergency drug infusions first pioneered on the battlefield were able to rapidly revive injured soldiers.

In such emergencies, medics don’t always have the time or ability to find or access veins, resorting to injecting drugs directly into bone marrow.

“Despite accumulating evidence for the presence of a complex blood supply in bone, the molecular mechanisms and anatomy underlying these rapid shifts of cells and fluid from bone marrow to the circulation have remained elusive,” a commentary on the new research explains.

Now, the basis of that mechanism is laid bare, having first been spotted by accident several years ago. Gunzer was studying fluorescent-dyed blood cells in mice, and observed them under the microscope appearing to pass through what should have been solid bone.

Unable to discover anything in medical literature that could explain the phenomenon, he devised a new research project to explore what was going on.

In the new study, Gunzer’s team used a chemical called ethyl cinnamate on mice tibiae (leg bones) to ‘clear’ the bones, making them transparent.

Then, using a combination of light-sheet fluorescence microscopy (LSFM) and X-ray microscopy, they were able to detect for the first time several hundreds of these tiny TCVs passing through the cortical layer of the leg bones.

Now, the basis of that mechanism is laid bare, having first been spotted by accident several years ago. Gunzer was studying fluorescent-dyed blood cells in mice, and observed them under the microscope appearing to pass through what should have been solid bone.

Unable to discover anything in medical literature that could explain the phenomenon, he devised a new research project to explore what was going on.

In the new study, Gunzer’s team used a chemical called ethyl cinnamate on mice tibiae (leg bones) to ‘clear’ the bones, making them transparent.

Then, using a combination of light-sheet fluorescence microscopy (LSFM) and X-ray microscopy, they were able to detect for the first time several hundreds of these tiny TCVs passing through the cortical layer of the leg bones.

Now, the basis of that mechanism is laid bare, having first been spotted by accident several years ago. Gunzer was studying fluorescent-dyed blood cells in mice, and observed them under the microscope appearing to pass through what should have been solid bone.

Unable to discover anything in medical literature that could explain the phenomenon, he devised a new research project to explore what was going on.

In the new study, Gunzer’s team used a chemical called ethyl cinnamate on mice tibiae (leg bones) to ‘clear’ the bones, making them transparent.

Then, using a combination of light-sheet fluorescence microscopy (LSFM) and X-ray microscopy, they were able to detect for the first time several hundreds of these tiny TCVs passing through the cortical layer of the leg bones.

Source:https://www.nature.com/articles/s42255-018-0016-5

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