Wednesday, October 27

What is the glycocalyx, the little known but transcendental organ that is in our entire body

  • Joan Josep Cerdà Pino, Antonio Cerrato Casado, Carles Bona Casas and Joan Masso
  • The Conversation*

Illustration of the inside of a blood vessel

Image source, Science Photo Library


The endothelial glycocalyx internally covers all the arteries and veins of the body. From the largest to the smallest microcapillaries (blood vessels).

As surprising as it may seem, all of us, including the coldest and harshest, have within us an everlasting romantic who tirelessly caresses and protects us day and night even the smallest and most intimate of our corners, a stranger to most but not without. We could live: the endothelial glycocalyx.

Behind these two words is an organ whose existence was confirmed in mammals shortly before man reached the Moon.

This organ, in an adult human, weighs as much as his brain: approximately 1.4 kilograms. If it were fully deployed, would cover three basketball courts.

What sets it apart from other organs is that it is not found in any specific place in the body. Conversely, is everywhere, in direct contact with blood.

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