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In order to clarify fine structures of the hypothetical meridian conduits of Chinese traditional medicine (CTM) in the skin, the present study used light and transmission electron microscopy to examine fasciae in different vertebrate species. Collagen fiber bundles and layers were arranged in a crisscross pattern, which developed into a special tissue micro-channel (TMC) network, in a manner that was analogs to the proposed skin meridian conduits. It was further revealed that tissue fluid in lateral TMC branches drained into wide longitudinal channels, which were distinctly different from lymphatic capillary. Mast cells, macrophages, and extracellular vesicles such as ectosomes and exosomes were distributed around telocytes (TCs) and their long processes (Telopodes, Tps) within the TMC. Cell junctions between TCs developed, which could enable the communication between contiguous but distant Tps. On the other hand, winding free Tps without cell junctions were also uncovered inside the TMC. Tissue fluid, cell junctions of TCs, mast cells, macrophages, and extracellular vesicles within the TMC corresponded to the circulating “气血” (“Qi-Xue”, i.e., information, message, and energy) of meridian conduits at the cytological level. These results could provide morphological evidence for the hypothesis that “meridians are the conduit for Qi-Xue circulation” in CTM.
Telocytes (TCs) are very long, non-neuronal, somatic cells whose function is widely believed to be involved in providing connections between different cells within the body. The cellular characteristics of TCs in various organs have been studied by immunohistochemistry, double immunofluorescence and electron microscopy in different vertebrate species, and here we investigate the proposed properties of these cells in the context of the “meridian” in Chinese Traditional Medicine (CTM). The results show that TCs and their long extensions, telopodes (Tps) develop a complicated network by homo- and heterocellular junctions in the connective tissue throughout the body, which can connect the skin with distant organs. In concept, this is the analogue of ancient meridian maps connecting skin acupoints with the viscera. Various active cells and extracellular vesicles including exosomes move along Tps, which, along with developed mitochondria within the podoms of Tps, may account for the structural evidence for “Qi” (vital energy and signal communication) in CTM. Morphological associations of TCs with the nerve, vascular, endocrine, and immune systems are also compatible with previously proposed meridian theories in CTM. Close relationships exist between TCs and collagen fiber bundles and some structures in skin fascia provide the microanatomical support for acupuncture treatment based on the meridian principle. The dynamicity in the distribution and structure of TCs reflects the plasticity of the meridian at the cellular level. As the same attribute, both the meridian and the TC have been associated with various diseases. Here, we summarize structural analogues between the TC and the meridian, suggesting that TCs have the cytological characteristics of the CTM meridian. We, therefore, hypothesize that TCs are the “essence cells” of the CTM meridian, which can connect and integrate different cells and structures in the connective tissue.
Magnesium alloy (AZ31) reinforced with carbon nanotubes (CNTs) and grapheme nanoplatelets (GNPs) were fabricated with the method of hot-pressing sintering and hot extrusion processes. GNPs and CNTs were predispersed with Al and Zn powders by ball milling used as precursor for sintering, which effectively guaranteed the integrity and dispersion of them. The microstructure and mechanical properties of the composites (denoted as Mg–3 wt% Al–1 wt% Zn–1 wt% (xCNTs + yGNPs)(x:y = 1:1, 1:2, 1:3) were investigated. The results show that the CNTs and GNPs are uniformly distributed in the matrix and closely combined with the matrix in nanoscale. Among the tested composites, Mg–3 wt% Al–1 wt% Zn–1 wt% (xCNTs + yGNPs)(x:y = 1:2) exhibits the most favorable mechanical properties, and the yield strength, tensile and compressed strength, and elongation of composites are substantially improved by the addition of 0.33 wt% CNTs and 0.67 wt% GNPs. Novel strengthening mechanisms such as three-dimensional reinforced structure formed by CNTs and GNPs are found for the remarkable improvement in mechanical properties.
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