New Type of Blood Vessels Discovered Hidden In Human Bones
Scientists discovered a new network of microscopic blood vessels in our bones. Blood cells are produced in the bone marrow, which is the soft fatty tissue inside bone cavities. Scientists noticed that once mature, these blood cells move more quickly from the bone marrow into the circulatory system.
A new type of microscopic Blood Vessels discovered
This has been known for a while. But how these blood vessels get out of bones and into circulation so quickly has left the scientists scratching their heads. Sure, there are hidden passageways in and out, but those big arteries and veins at the ends of bones, which makes them an impractical route of the body need a quick burst of the cells forged within our marrow.
To search for the missing secret tunnels, researchers treated the bone with a chemical that allowed them to observe the movement of blood inside the bones themselves! What they found were thousands of very tiny channels in the bone that led the marrow to the bloodstream.
But that wasn’t good enough, they still needed to prove what it was these tunnels doing. So they stained special immune cells that are made in the bone marrow and then used a laser to make them light up.
Blood vessels discovered hidden in human bones
Sure enough, in cross-section after cross-section of a mouse’s tibia, they saw soft, blood-carrying tissue snaking through the bony architecture. And when they reconstruct the cave-like world inside a mouse bone in 3D, they could see the skeleton had hollowed-out canals so that these capillaries could carry-blood quickly.
That solves the mystery of how immune cells could flood so quickly into the bloodstream. At least, it did so in mice! To confirm whether human bones also contain these hidden channels, one of the researchers put his own leg in an MRI machine!
The images showed tiny holes on the surface if his thigh bone. Surprisingly, researchers found the number of these tiny channels increase in mice that have rheumatoid arthritis as well as in mice that were exposed to radiation.
What is RA? Blood Vessels discovered
RA is an autoimmune disorder that wears away the joints. In humans, both radiation and arthritis are known to damage bones. So if humans do have these capillaries, it could open up the door to new kinds of therapies for treating inflammatory diseases such as osteoporosis, rheumatoid arthritis, or tumors that metastasize into bones.
This is not the first time scientists discovered hidden vascular channels. In another study, researchers discovered channels that connect the bone marrow of the skull to the brain. When researchers induced a stroke or meningitis in mice, immune cells from their skull used this route to reach the brain and respond to the damage.
These microvascular channels have also been observed in humans. But researchers have yet to determine whether immune cells pass through these channels in humans. If they do, this could have implications in a number of neurodegenerative diseases where inflammation is believed to be involved, including multiple sclerosis and Alzheimer’s disease.
This just goes to show that while we have made great strides in our understandings of incredibly complex things, including the mysteries of the cosmos, our very own bodies still have plenty of surprises waiting to be discovered! Just as these new types of blood vessels.