What is connective tissue?



What is connective tissue?
The clear watery material is the homogeneous ground substance.

connective tissue

The tissue that packs our and supports the organs in the human body is known as connective tissue. Connective tissue develops from the mesoderm or mesochyme. Connective tissue is not all the same and consists of three distinct components.
1. The ground substance is composed of mucopolysaccharides,  proteins, lipids, and water.

The mucopolysaccharides are also known as glycosaminoglycans and are primarily hyalauric acid and chondroitin sulfates. The ground substances is located between the cells of the connective tissue and the fibers. It forms an amorphous solid or a gel and when fresh appears transparent and homogeneous. The body can use the ground substance as a route of passage for nutrients and wastes.

2. Fibers are the structurally supportive element of connective tissue. Fibers can be collagenous where they are strong and resist any stretching. The collagen fibers are white in color and are the most abundant fiber in connective tissue. Elastic fibers are the opposite and are refractile fibers like a rubber band.
They are much thinner than collagen fibers and are yellow in color. Elastic fibers are located in the walls of blood vessels, skin, lungs, vocal cords, and the trachea. The only other fiber are reticular fibers which are arranged in a intermeshing network also known as a reticulum. The network acts as a supporting mesh for organs such as the blood vessels, liver, bone marrow, or lymphoid organs.

What is connective tissue?
The fibers of connective tissue are stained pink to illustrate their structure.

3. Cells are the last component of connective tissue and are responsible for multiple duties. Fibroblasts are the most abundant of connective tissue cells and are non-moving cells. Macrophages are the wandering cells of the innate immune system. They are polymorphic and can engulf both foreign material such as bacteria or dead cells from the body. Adipocytes are the fat cells that can be found in connective tissue, however when they are found in large clusters of tissue they are referred to as adipose tissue. The adipocytes contain large lipid droplets obtained from the diet that can be used as energy when broken down. Mast cells are those devilish cells responsible for the problems we experience when plagued with allergies. Allergic reactions are caused by a mast cell releasing its granules containing large amounts of histamine. Histamine will expand blood vessels which is great for allowing white blood cells to respond to any invading infections. However these cells are sometimes mistake allergens as threatening and cause us to experience shortness of breath, itching, teary eyes, etc. Additionally connective tissue will have white blood cells that have navigated from the lymph system to scavenge for invading pathogens and pathogenic material.


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