The Connective Tissues
Connective tissues consists of variable number of cells, fibers and ground substances like fluid or a viscous gel that is high-strength and can be slightly stretched. One can infer that from the name itself, it serves to “connect”.
At the microscopic level, connective tissues range from blood cells through the fibrous cells to the more stiff supporting tissues like the cartilage. Tendons, ligaments and fascial layers of the body wall are all made of connective tissues. Connective tissues are one of the four major kinds of tissue in the body.
Loose, Areolar Connective Tissue
As the name itself says, this type of connective tissue is made up of many cells including a loose, irregular arrangement of fibers. The name itself may be new to most of us but we have heard this type of connective tissue before, only by another name. We may have heard of superficial fascia which are loose, connective tissues found deep to the skin. Subcutaneous tissue or hypodermis may ring a bell, all because these are also referring to loose, areolar connective tissues. It is also found deep to the epithelial tissues of mucous and serous membranes of hollow organs.
Collagen or protein links which shows tremendous amount of tensile strength and elastic fibers, also made of proteins, give the fibrous support elements of this tissue.
Adipose Connective Tissue
Adipose tissue is closely associated with blood and lymph capillaries. It is a collection of fat cells, supported by collagenous and reticular fibers. These fat cells can either be released or stored depending on various instances, like hormone signals, nutritional factors and nerve stimulus. Pinch your thigh, buttock or arm if you want to feel your adipose tissue. It serves as a shock absorber, padding, an insulator, a place to store vitamins and most importantly as fuel. Additional adipose tissue can be found in the yellow bone marrow and the surface of serous membranes.
Dense, Regular Connective Tissue
These masses of collagenous, elastic fibers form ligaments and tendons that provide flexible support and cushion and at the same time pack tremendous power yet allow some stretch. Tendons and ligaments contain few cells, although ligaments are more elastic than tendons, because the added flexibility is needed to perform certain tasks. The tendocalcaneus is the largest elastic structure in the body, storing energy used in gait.
Dense, Irregular Connective Tissue
The irregularly arranged cells offer impact resistance and is minimally vascularized. These cells largely make up the dermis of the skin and perform its job by protecting the muscles by enveloping muscle fibers and encapsulating the liver and spleen and other visceral organs.
The amazement never fails to subside when you think of how complex things are happening inside our body. We may take for granted these minute details but let us bear in mind that these processes keep is intact and allow us to move freely.