Connective tissue serves a fundamental role in your body. Not only does it hold the body together, but it also bolsters different tissues and even transports substances. To better understand connective tissue’s role, envision what goes into building a house. There might be concrete to serve as a foundation. There are windows and entryways. There are framing, roofing, and finishing materials. Now imagine for a moment if none of the aforementioned parts are able to be connected to one another in completing that house. While temporarily you may be able to lean one item against another, think about what would happen once you go to add the roof. How long will the house you construct remain standing without anything holding it together?
Now let’s think about the human body in a similar manner. A body is a structure that is made out of a wide range of parts including the skeleton, muscle tissue, and numerous interior organs with skin covering it all and keeping everything in place. Within our bodies, our organs would be essentially floating around inside of us and not settle nicely (and reliably) atop one another if it weren’t for the existence of connective tissue.
Structure of Connective Tissue
- Collagen Fibers - An exceptionally solid and adaptable type of fiber, collagen is a sort of protein fiber that can be found in abundance all through our bodies. Not only does it strengthen and provide padding to a wide range of regions of the body, including the skin, but collagen is also found among all sorts of connective tissue such as ligament, ligaments, bones, and tendons.
Elastic Fibers - Known for being extremely elastic as well as the unique shape they take once extended, elastic fibers, also known as yellow fibers, are packs of proteins found in the extracellular matrix of connective tissue. They are created from fibroblasts and smooth muscle cells in supply routes known as arteries. These filaments can extend up to 1.5 times their length, then snap back to their unique length. Elastic fibers are made of elastin, elaunin and oxytalan.
Reticular Fibers - Reticular fibers are thin, collagen filaments that support delicate organs.
Types of Connective Tissues
- Areolar - This is loosely packed fibrous connective tissue that holds other tissue layers together.
- Adipose - This is fatty, loose connective tissue that stores energy, insulates, and cushions the body.
- Fibrous - Fibrous tissue is composed of bundles of collagenous white fibers, between which are rows of connective tissue cells.
- Bone Tissue - This is the most rigid connective tissue. It internally supports body structures and is very active. It heals much faster than cartilage.
- Cartilage Tissue - This is dense, flexible tissue similar to bone tissue.
- Blood Tissue - Blood tissue consists of blood cells surrounded by nonliving fluid matrix called plasma. It transports nutrients, wastes, respiratory gases, and many other substances through the body.
- Hemopoietic Tissue - This produces blood cells that are added to the circulating blood, removes worn out blood cells from the blood stream, red bone marrow, lymphatic tissue, and yellow bone marrow.