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Naturwissenschaften. 2008 Feb;95(2):117-24. Epub 2007 Aug 23.

Measurement of flow speed in the channels of novel threadlike structures on the surfaces of mammalian organs.

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Biomedical Physics Laboratory, School of Physics and Astronomy, Seoul National University, Seoul, South Korea.


There have been several reports on novel threadlike structures (NTSs) on the surfaces of the internal organs of rats and rabbits since their first observation by Bonghan Kim in 1963. To confirm this novel circulatory function, it is necessary to observe the flow of liquid through the NTS as well as the structurally corroborating channels in the NTS. In this article, we report on the measurement of the flow speed of Alcian blue solution in the NTSs on the organ surfaces of rabbits, and we present electron microscopic images depicting the cribrous cross-section with channels. The speed was measured as 0.3 +/- 0.1 mm/s, and the flow distance was up to 12 cm. The flow was unidirectional, and the phase contrast microscopic images showed that the NTSs were strongly stained with Alcian blue. The ultrastructure of the NTSs revealed by cryo-scanning electron microscopy and high-voltage electron microscopy showed that (1) there were cell-like bodies and globular clumps of matter inside the sinus of the channel with thin strands of segregated zones which is a microscopic evidence of the liquid flow, (2) the sinuses have wall structures surrounded with extracellular matrices of collagenous fibers, and (3) there exists a cribriform structure of sinuses. To understand the mechanism for the circulation, a quantitative analysis of the flow speed has been undertaken applying a simplified windkessel model. In this analysis, it was shown that the liquid flow through the NTSs could be due to peristaltic motion of the NTS itself.

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