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Connective Tissues

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Connective Tissues - Lesson Summary

Connective tissues are the most abundant and widely distributed tissues in animals. These tissues help to link and provide support to other tissues and organs throughout the body. These range from soft to specialised tissues such as cartilage, bone, adipose and blood. Except for blood, the cells of connective tissue secrete collagen fibres, which are made of protein. These fibres provide strength, elasticity and flexibility to the tissue. The cells of connective tissue also secrete matrix or ground substance.
 
Connective tissues are categorised into three types – loose connective, dense connective and specialised connective. In loose connective tissue, the cells and fibres are loosely arranged in a semi-fluid matrix. Loose connective tissue includes areolar and adipose tissue. Areolar tissue is found under the skin helps in keeping the epithelial tissue in place. Similarly, adipose tissue is situated under the skin and is specialised to store fats. In dense connective tissue, the fibres and fibroblasts are compactly arranged. This tissue is further divided into dense regular and dense irregular tissues depending on the orientation of the fibres. In dense regular connective tissue, collagen fibres are present in rows between parallel bundles of fibres as in tendons and ligaments. In dense irregular connective tissue, the fibroblasts and fibres orient differently as in skin.
 
The third category, specialised connective tissue, consists of cartilage, bone and blood.
Cartilage is a solid and pliable tissue and resists compression. Cartilage cells are enclosed in small cavities within the matrix secreted by them. Cartilage is found in the tip of the nose, some parts of the rib cage and between vertebrae. Bones have a hard and non-pliable matrix, which is rich in calcium salts and collagen fibres. This provides strength to the bones. Bones make up the skeletal system of a body, and support and protect the softer tissues and organs. The skeletal muscles attached to the bones help in movement. Moreover, long bones have bone marrow that produces blood cells. The long bones of the legs help bear body weight.
 
The last type of specialised connective tissue is blood, which is a fluid tissue that contains plasma, RBC, WBC and platelets. Blood serves as the main circulating fluid that transports various substances. Thus, connective tissue helps store fats, link and provide support to other tissues and organs, and transport various substances such as gases, nutrients and hormones to different parts of the body.

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