The Grapevine

Scientists Discover New Organ Under The Skin

Researchers in Sweden discovered a previously unknown organ in the skin that may make significant changes across the medical community in the future. A mesh-like structure was found between the skin’s outer and inner layers, which plays an important role in how people feel pain. 

The team called the organ as nociceptive glio-neural complex. It is a network of glial cells that are also present in nerve cells. 

The study, published in the journal Science, suggests that the organ may give scientists new knowledge of how the body reacts to pain and any damage in the skin. Scientists previously thought that the cells called nociceptive fibers were where pain begins. 

“We have been thinking for probably a hundred years that pain is started from nerves in the skin,” Patrik Ernfors, study co-author and a molecular neurobiologist at the Karolinska Institutet in Sweden, said. “But what we show now is that pain can also be started in these glial cells.”

Ernfors and his team expect the newly-discovered organ would guide development of new treatments for different neuropathic pain disorders, National Geographic reported Thursday.

Uncovering the Hiding Organ

The organ was first found in mice. The researchers examined animals subjects and how their bodies would respond to different types of pain with and without the cells in the organ using gene editing.

The mice initially showed normal response to thermal pain, heat and cold. But when the researchers deactivated glial complex forming the organ, the animals had lower response to mechanical pain during tests.

The team said the organ may teach scientists about how pain begins and progresses. However, Ernfors noted they have yet to check if humans have the same organ.

“Considering that all other previously known sensory organs in [mice] also exist in humans, it is possible if not likely that this sensory organ also is present in our skin,” he said. 

It is the first time a new organ was found under the skin. Researchers in the U.S. discovered another fluid-filled network in the skin in 2018 that they called the interstitium.  

It appeared as a fluid-filled structure that also covers internal organs, Gizmodo reported Thursday. However, the medical community has yet to confirm the findings and approve the proposal to consider the newly-found structures as organs. 

Skin Researchers in Sweden discovered a mesh-like structure in the skin, which plays an important role in how people feel pain. Pixabay