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The A&P Professor Podcast
TAPP Radio

Content updates and teaching advice for teachers of human anatomy & physiology (A&P) from professor, author, and mentor Kevin Patton. 

Have a question, comment, or an idea for an episode you'd like to hear—or in which you would like to participate or help plan? Contact host Kevin Patton. Or call the podcast hotline at 1-833-LION-DEN (1-833-546-6336).

For more details on each episode—including transcripts—please visit The A&P Professor website.

Nov 16, 2021

Are there really no more discoveries in human anatomy? In this episode, I'll review some recent discoveries: the rise of the fabella, macrophage barriers, the interstitium, button and zipper junctions, lymph node micro-organs, new vessels in bones, and tubarial salivary glands.

00:00 | Introduction

00:41 | Is Anatomy Finished?

03:44 | Sponsored by AAA

04:16 | Rise of the Fabella

11:52 | Sponsored by HAPI

12:38 | Macrophage Barriers

23:18 | Sponsored by HAPS

23:55 | Interstitium

27:48 | Button and Zipper Junctions

35:28 | Lymphatic Micro-Organ

40:05 | Free Update Newsletter

41:05 | New Vessels in Bones

44:44 | Tubarial Salivary Glands

52:37 | Staying Connected

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It is not over, unless you stop trying. (Nabil N. Jamal)


Is Anatomy Finished?

3 minutes

It's easy to fall into that mindset that anatomy is "finished"—that there are no new discoveries to be made in the structure of the human body. But that's simply not the case. In this episode, Kevin reviews seven anatomical discoveries discussed in the last few years of this podcast.


Sponsored by AAA

0.5 minutes

A searchable transcript for this episode, as well as the captioned audiogram of this episode, are sponsored by the American Association for Anatomy (AAA) at

Searchable transcript

Captioned audiogram 

Don't forget—HAPS members get a deep discount on AAA membership!

AAA logo


Rise of the Fabella

7.5 minutes

The fabella (pl., fabellae) is a small, beanlike bone that may (or not) occur behind the knee joint. Recent evidence shows that it's showing up  more frequently in the population. Why?

T★ he original version of this segment aired in Anatomic Variations in Humans | Fabella | Situs Inversus | Episode 43

★ Fabella prevalence rate increases over 150 years, and rates of other sesamoid bones remain constant: a systematic review (recent research article)

★ Sore knee? Maybe you have a fabella (plain English report from the BBC)

★ Fabella x-radiograph (to use in your course)

★ An illustration you can download as a PDF and use is available in the free TAPP APP

★ Improbable Destinies: Fate, Chance, and the Future of Evolution by Jonathan B. Losos  (book  on  updated  ideas  of  evolution)

★ ★ Browse The A&P Professor Book Club

fabella Fabella image: Jmarchn (


Sponsored by HAPI Online Graduate Program

0.5 minute

The Master of Science in Human Anatomy & Physiology Instruction—the MS-HAPI—is a graduate program for A&P teachers, especially for those who already have a graduate/professional degree. A combination of science courses (enough to qualify you to teach at the college level) and courses in contemporary instructional practice, this program helps you be your best in both on-campus and remote teaching. Kevin Patton is a faculty member in this program at Northeast College of Health Sciences. Check it out!

Logo of Northeast College of Health Sciences, Human Anatomy & Physiology Instruction


Barrier Macrophages

10.5 minutes

We knew there were macrophages within, and upon, the synovial membrane that lines synovial joints. What we have just learned is that macrophages on the synovial membrane surface can bind with tight junctions to form a barrier layer. Go figure.

★ The original version of this segment aired in More on Spelling, Case, & Grammar | Episode 56

★ Macrophages form a protective cellular barrier in joints (news summary)

★ Locally renewing resident synovial macrophages provide a protective barrier for the joint (research article)

barrier macrophages


Sponsored by HAPS

0.5 minute

The Human Anatomy & Physiology Society (HAPS) is a sponsor of this podcast.  You can help appreciate their support by clicking the link below and checking out the many resources and benefits found there. Watch for virtual town hall meetings and upcoming regional meetings!

Anatomy & Physiology Society

HAPS logo



3.5 minutes

Has a new human organ discovered? Or is this news mostly hype? Or is the answer somewhere in the middle?

★ The original version of this segment first aired in Test Debriefing Boosts Student Learning | Episode 11

Structure and Distribution of an Unrecognized Interstitium in Human Tissues (original research report)

Newly-discovered human organ may help explain how cancer spreads (article about the original report)

That “New Organ” Everyone Is Freaking Out About Is Probably Not New (article outlining criticism of the original report)

Is the Interstitium Really a New Organ? (another article interprets the original report)

Is This Tissue a New Organ? Maybe. A Conduit for Cancer? It Seems Likely. (yet another opinion)

The Human Organ Discovered in 2018 (and we have another opinion)

interstitium Interstitium. Illustration by Jill Gregory. Printed with permission from Mount Sinai Health System, licensed under CC-BY-ND.


Button and Zipper Junctions

7.5 minutes

Are you familiar with the button junctions that connect overlapping endothelial cells in lymphatic capillaries in a way that forms valves? What about zippers? Where do they fit into the story? (They do.) Here are some links to the details behind a great demo that Kevin shares for understanding lymphatic structure and function.

★ The original version of this segment aired in Promoting Academic Integrity in Our Course | Episode 25

Functionally specialized junctions between endothelial cells of lymphatic vessels (2007 research article outlining button and zipper junctions; great images)

Plasticity of button-like junctions in the endothelium of airway lymphatics in development and inflammation. (2012 research article shows that zippers predominate in early development, but are then convert to buttons; also has some really cool images showing these junctions)

Lacteal junction zippering protects against diet-induced obesity (2018 research article)

★ ★ Tighter lymphatic junctions prevent obesity (perspective and summary of the research article; includes a nice slide you can use in teaching)



Lymphatic Micro-Organ

4.5 minutes

One headline announced the discovering of a new human micro-organ. It turns out, researchers have found a distinct structure just beneath the capsule of lymph nodes called the subcapsular proliferative focus (SPF) where memory B cells hang out—not deep in the germinal center (GC).  This puts them in a good position to be activated by macrophages acting as antigen-presenting cells (APCs) and mount a strong secondary immune response.

★ The original version of this segment first aired in Modeling Professional Integrity | Episode 26

Researchers Discover New ‘Micro-Organ’ in Human Immune System (news item about the discovery)

Memory B cells are reactivated in subcapsular proliferative foci of lymph nodes (research article from Nature Communications)

Second Harmonic Generation Imaging Microscopy: Applications to Diseases Diagnostics (describes the SHG method used to visualize the lymph node cells; see image)


Free Update Newsletter from The A&P Professor

1 minute

A newly envisioned, newly styled, digital newsletter from The A&P Professor features news stories and updates in human science and education curated by Kevin Patton. To get your copy 2-3 times each week—or to simply check out previous editions—of this free newsletter, go to 

Revue (by Twitter) logoOr fill out the form...




New Vessels in Bone

3.5 minutes

Scientists have discovered a system of small vessels that cross every part of a bone's cortical layers to supply most of the bone's blood—over 80% of the arterial supply and 59% of venous drainage. The proposed name is trans-cortical vessels (TCVs).

★ The original version of this segment aired in Big Year in Anatomy & Physiology Teaching with The A&P Professor | Episode 36

★ We’ve discovered a new type of blood vessel in our bones (brief article summarizing the discovery)

★ A network of trans-cortical capillaries as mainstay for blood circulation in long bones (full research article)

★ Video (gif) showing a virtual trip through a TCV


Tubarial Salivary Glands

8 minutes

A recent paper proposes the existence of a new organ—the paired tubarial salivary gland. It's suggested that this be added as a major salivary gland along with the parotid, submandibular, and submaxillary salivary glands.

★ The original version of this segment aired in New Organ | Dam Protons | Our Secret Language | TAPP 80

★ The tubarial salivary glands: A potential new organ at risk for radiotherapy (original research article)

★ Doctors May Have Found Secretive New Organs in the Center of Your Head (newspaper article)

★ Cancer researchers discover new salivary gland (press release about discovery)

★ Image: (CC license)

tubarial salivary gland surrounding pharyngeal opening of auditory tube



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★ Transcript and captions for this episode are supported by the American Association for Anatomy |

★ The Human Anatomy & Physiology Society provides marketing support for this podcast |

★ Distribution of this episode is supported by the Northeast College of Health Sciences online graduate program in Human Anatomy & Physiology Instruction (HAPI) |

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