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The connective tissues serve many purposes in the body:
· They provide structure.
· They serve as packing.
· They provide insulation, and
· They are one medium for the defense of the body.
The major components of connective tissue include ground substance, proteoglycans, collagen and elastin fibers and fibroblasts.
Ground substance is an amorphous, transparent gel that constitutes the matrix of connective tissue. It varies in viscosity in different forms of connective tissue, and under different conditions.
The ground substance contains molecules called proteoglycans. They bind large amounts of water, creating the gelatinous material of ground substance.
The main proteoglycan that binds water in loose connective tissue is hyaluronic acid. Hyaluronic acid's high water binding power is the main factor determining the viscosity and permeability of connective tissue. Water bound to hyaluronic acid provides a vehicle for the transport of nutrients, gases, and metabolites between the circulating blood and cells.
Collagen and Elastin Fibers, and Fibronectin
The network formed from proteoglycans, collagen, elastin and fibronectin makes up the connective tissue matrix.
Collagen is a fibrous but flexible, insoluble connective tissue protein. About a third of the body proteins are collagen. Collagen fibers and proteoglycan filaments are the two most abundant solid constituents in the ground substance.
Collagen fibers form cross-links or cross-bindings with adjacent collagen. These links contribute to the semi-elastic yet stabilizing capacity of connective tissue."
Elastin fibers are smaller than collagen fibers. They enable connective tissue to stretch and then resume its original shape once the distorting force is gone.
Fibronectin is a cell surface protein that attaches cells to the underlying tissue and adjacent cells.
Fibroblasts and Mast Cells
A fibroblast is a cell from which connective tissue develops: they synthesise, secrete and maintain all of the major components of the extracellular matrix. Fibroblasts are the most common connective tissue cells.
The mast cells in loose connective tissue are an important component of the immune system. They secrete heparin and histamine.
Do you suffer from unexplained fatigue, muscle weakness, muscle pain, joint pain, low grade fever and are prone to infections among others? If you do, chances are you might be suffering from an autoimmune condition...
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About Gary Clark
Gary Clark is a massage therapist and EFT practitioner in Perth, Western Australia. Gary founded Pain Busters Clinic in 2002, where he helps people with a variety of pain problems, including fibromyalgia and myofascial pain syndrome.