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CONNECTIVE TISSUES: Functions  Mesothelial cells

 Structural function: provide and maintain FORM in  Endothelial cells

the body.  Smooth muscle cells
 Mechanical function: provide a matrix that
CONNECTS and BINDS the cells and organs and
ultimately gives support to the body.
 Metabolic function: Provide metabolic support for
other tissues and organs of the body.
o Mediate the EXCHANGE of nutrients,
metabolites and waste products between
tissues and circulatory system.
 Defense function: serves as the arena and
provides the cells that are needed to defend the
body against invading organisms and other harmful
Structural components: Hematopoietic stem cells
 CELLS – character cells / special support cells  Blood cells
 Extracellular matrix o RBC, granular WBC
o Protein FIBERS – (collagen, elastic, o lymphocytes – B cells / T cells
reticular) o Monocytes - macrophages
o GROUND SUBSTANCE – gel-like o Megakaryocytes – platelets
arrangement of organic materials where  Osteoclast
cells and fibers are embedded.  Mast cells
o Imparts strength and rigidity to the matrix
 Structural components: Vary in AMOUNT and
COMPOSITION which determine the physical
properties of each CT type.


 MESODERM: mesodermal cells migrate from their
site of origin and surround / penetrate developing
 MESENCHYME: a derivative of mesoderm
o Embryonic PRECURSOR of all connective CELLS of Connective Tissues
tissues.  Fibroblasts / fibrocytes / reticular cells /
o Fibroblasts, chondroblasts, osteoblasts adipocytes
o All blood cells and blood vessels o Derived from undifferentiated mesenchymal
o Cartilage, bones, ligaments, tendons, fasciae, cells.
muscles o Fixed CELLS in CTs / remain in CTs
 Mast cells, macrophages, and plasma cells
o - originate from hematopoietic stem cells in
the bone marrow
o Circulate in the blood
o WANDERING CELLS move to CTs, where
they remain and execute their functions.
 Blood leukocytes - are TRANSIENT CELLS of CTs
o Originate in bone marrow
o They usually migrate to CTs where
o They reside for a few days and die.

Functions of Connective Tissue Cells

Mesenchymal derivatives:
Undifferentiated mesenchymal cells
 Fibroblast
 Adipocytes
 Chondroblast – chondrocytes
 Osteoblasts – osteocytes
Cell type Representative product Function  With acidophilic cytoplasm
or activity  Has a small amount of rER
Fibroblast, Production of fibers and Structural
chondroblast ground substance
, osteoblast
Plasma cell Production of antibodies Immunologic
al (defense)
Lymphocyte Production of Immunologic
(several immunocompetent cells al (defense)
Eosinophilic Participation in allergic Immunologic
leukocyte and vasoactive reactions, al (defense) MACROPHAGES or HISTIOCYTES
modulation of mast cell  Derived from circulating blood MONOCYTES that
activities and the take up residence in the connective tissue.
inflammatory process  PHAGOCYTIC cells that ingest bacteria, dead cells,
Neutrophilic Phagocytosis of foreign Defense cell debris, and other foreign matter in the CT
leukocyte substances, bacteria  Enhance immunologic activities of the lymphocytes.
Macrophage Secretion of cytokines Defense
and other molecules,
lymphocytes and perform an important function in
phagocytosis of foreign
the immune response
substances and bacteria,
 Macrophages have specific names in different
antigen processing and
presentation to other cells
Mast cell and Liberation of Defense
basophilic pharmacologically active (participate
leukocyte molecules (eg, histamine) in allergic
Adipose (fat) Storage of neutral fats Energy
cell reservoir,
FIBROBLAST: Active and quiescent stages
FIBROBLAST Macrophage:
 Usually appears round with irregular cell outlines,
 Small nucleus rich in chromatin and cytoplasm
filled with dense, INGESTED particles.
 When a vital dye such as trypan blue or India ink is
injected into an animal, macrophages engulf and
 The dominant cells in the CT accumulate the dye in their cytoplasm in the form of
granules or vacuoles visible in the light microscope
 Has an abundant and irregularly branched
Distribution and Main Functions of the Cells of the
Mononuclear Phagocyte System.
 Nucleus is ovoid, large, and pale staining, with fine
Cell Type Location Main Function
chromatin and a prominent nucleolus.
Monocyte Blood Precursor of
 Cytoplasm is rich in rER
 Golgi complex is well developed
Macrophage Connective Production of cytokines,
 Synthesize collagen, reticular, and elastic fibers
tissue, chemotactic factors, and
 Synthesize constituents of the extracellular matrix. lymphoid several other molecules
organs, lungs, that participate in
FIBROCYTES bone marrow inflammation (defense),
antigen processing and
Kupffer cell Liver Same as macrophages
Microglia Nerve tissue Same as macrophages
cell of the central
 The spindle-shaped fibrocytes are smaller than system
the fibroblasts and are mature Langerhans Skin Antigen processing and
 Less active cells of the fibroblast line. cell presentation
 It has fewer processes
 Has a smaller, darker, elongated nucleus
Dendritic Lymph nodes Antigen processing and
cell presentation
Osteoclast Bone (fusion Digestion of bone
of several

Multinuclear Connective Segregation and

giant cell tissue (fusion digestion of foreign
of several bodies
macrophages)  Exhibits a narrow rim of cytoplasm
 Flattened, eccentric nucleus
MAST CELLS  In histologic sections, the large fat globules of
 Oval to round CT cells adipose cells have been dissolved by different
 10–13µm in diameter chemicals, leaving a large, highly characteristic
 Cytoplasm is filled with BASOPHILIC secretory EMPTY space.
 With centrally located small, spherical nucleus which PLASMA CELLS
is frequently obscured by the cytoplasmic granules.  Derived from B LYMPHOCYTES that have been
 Synthesize and release HISTAMINE and HEPARIN. exposed to antigens.
 Exposure of mast cells to ALLERGENS causes  Plasma cells produce ANTIBODIES of importance in
rapid release of histamine and other vasoactive immune reactions.
chemicals.  Large, ovoid cells that have a BASOPHILIC
Mast cell secretion cytoplasm due to their richness in rough
endoplasmic reticulum
 Exhibits a smaller, eccentrically placed nucleus with
condensed, coarse chromatin clumps distributed
peripherally in a characteristic radial (cartwheel)
pattern and one central mass.

1.  A prominent, CLEAR AREA (golgi complex) in the

IgE molecules are bound to the surface receptors
cytoplasm is adjacent to the nucleus.
2. After a second exposure to an antigen (eg, bee
 Golgi complex - is where the terminal
venom), IgE molecules bound to surface receptors
glycosylation of the antibodies (glycoproteins)
are cross-linked by the antigen. This activates
adenylate cyclase and results in the phosphorylation
of certain proteins.
 White blood corpuscles / white blood cells (WBC)
3. At the same time, Ca2+ enters the cell.
4. These events lead to intracellular fusion of specific  WANDERING cells of the connective tissue.
granules and exocytosis of their contents.  Basophils, neutrophils, eosinophils, lymphocytes,
5. In addition, phospholipases act on membrane monocytes  macrophage
phospholipids to produce leukotrienes.  The normal CT contains leukocytes that migrate
The process of extrusion does not damage the cell, through the walls of blood vessels from the blood to
which remains viable and synthesizes new granules. CT by a process called DIAPEDESIS.
ECF-A, eosinophil chemotactic factor of anaphylaxis.  Neutrophils and Monocytes
ADIPOSE CELLS / ADIPOCYTES  Secrete ENZYME that degrade the basement
 Fixed cells in loose CT membrane between the endothelial cells – to
 Adipocytes are very long-lived cells. Their number is squeeze into the site of infection  DIAPEDESIS
determined by the number of LIPOBLAST (pre-  WBCs must aggregate in the CT area to mediate
adipocyte) generated during fetal and early postnatal INFLAMMATORY process.
 Function: STORE FAT (lipid), provide
PROTECTIVE packing material in and around
numerous organs and for the production of HEAT.
Diapedesis GROUND SUBSTANCE: Composition
 GLYCOSAMINOGLYCANS (GAGs) (formerly “acid
 PROTEOGLYCANS (formerly “mucoproteins”)
 Multiadhesive GLYCOPROTEINS.
Glycosaminoglycans, GAGs (Acid
 LINEAR POLYSACCHARIDES formed by repeating
disaccharide units that are bound covalently to
proteoglycan molecule.
Leukocyte extravasation is controled by a cascade of
 intensely hydrophilic and act as polyanions
adhesion and signalling molecules.
o Heparan sulfate
First leukocytes are captured to the blood vessel wall by
o Keratan sulfate
selectins. Sensing chemotactic factors such as
o Dermatan sulfate
chemokines on the endothelial cell surface leads to the
o Chondroitin sulfate
activation of leukocytes and leukocyte integrins. Finally
o Hyaluronic acid
leukocytes migrate along the blood vessel wall and
GAG + Protein core = PROTEOGLYCANS
through the endothelial cell layer and the underlying
The core protein associated with the four main GAGs
basal lamina.
Increased vascular permeability  CARBOHYDRATE moiety predominates (80-90%)
 Caused by the action of vasoactive substances  bind to a great number of cations (usually sodium)
o Ex. Histamine - from mast cells and by electrostatic (ionic) bonds
basophils  intensely hydrated structures with a thick layer of
 Vascular permeability SOLVATION water surrounding the molecule –
 Increases in blood flow
o Responsible for local swelling (edema),  act as a barrier to the penetration of bacteria and
redness (rubor), and heat (calor). other microorganisms
o Pain (dolor) is due to chemical mediators Purposes:
on nerve endings.  Act as STRUCTURAL components of the
Chemotaxis – when specific cell types are attracted by extracellular matrix
some molecules, is responsible for the migration of large  ANCHORING cells to the matrix
quantities of specific cell types to regions of  Bind many protein growth factors (eg, transforming
inflammation. growth factor, TGF-, of fibroblasts).
 Leukocytes cross the walls of venules and Proteoglycan
capillaries by diapedesis, invading the inflamed
Leukocytes  In the matrix
 Ex. Aggrecan (in

SURFACE proteoglycans
 Attached to the surface of many types of cells,
particularly epithelial cells.
 Ex. syndecan and fibroglycan

Neutrophils - active and powerful PHAGOCYTES; they Globular PROTEIN molecules to

engulf and destroy bacteria at sites of infections. which branched chains of
Eosinophils - become active and increase in number MONOSACCHARIDES are
after PARASITIC infections or ALLERGIC reactions. covalently attached.
CT Component: EXTRACELLULAR MATRIX Protein moiety usually predominates
- GROUND SUBSTANCE play an important role in the
INTERACTION between neighboring adult and
 Fills the space between cells & fibers of the CT
embryonic cells
 A highly HYDRATED, colorless, and transparent
For the adhesion of cells to their substrate
complex mixture of macromolecules. (Water, salts
and other low molecular substances &
 Very small quantity of fluid in the extracellular matrix
proteoglycans) VISCOUS.
(ECM) of CTs that comes from the BLOOD
 Acts as both a lubricant and a barrier to the
 Due to HYDROSTATIC pressure of the blood, small
penetration of invaders
amount of plasma fluid passes through the capillary
 Since CTs are widely distributed, as much as one- 2) Reticular fibers
third of the plasma proteins of the body are  Very delicate and form fine networks instead of thick
STORED in the ECM of the connective tissue. bundles.
 EDEMA – in pathological conditions, it is promoted  Affinity with special stains. Ex: SILVER stained
by the accumulation of water in the extracellular sections reticular fibers look like fine, black threads.
spaces due to increased VASCULAR permeability. Their different staining characteristics were initially
Movement of fluid through connective tissue. thought that reticular fibers were completely different
from collagen fibres.
 Component: Type III collagen
 Fxn: Support to individual cells of Muscle & Adipose
tissues and CAPSULATED organs (liver & spleen);
tunica media of muscular artery

There is a decrease in hydrostatic pressure and an

increase in osmotic pressure from the arterial to the 3) Elastic fibers
venous ends of blood capillaries (upper part of drawing). In fresh tissues: Light yellow in large amounts in the
Fluid leaves the capillary through its arterial end and tissue.
repenetrates the blood at the venous end. Some fluid Special stains: Resorcin fuchsin gives a dark violet
is drained by the lymphatic capillaries. color.
A. CT fibers Component: The matrix accounts for about 90% of the
1) Collagen fibers fiber and composed of elastin and microfibrils. Both
 Dominant fiber type in most CT. elastic fibers and microfibrils are not collagen.
Organs: Elastic ligaments of the vertebral column; ear
 Organs: Throughout the body
auricles; skin dermis; aorta; large arteries
 Fxn: Add strength to the CT.
 Component: Microfibrils (collagen fibrils) which are
assemblies of tropocollagen (of AAs: hydroxyproline
and hydroxylysine).
 Types I, II and III tropocollagens are the major
fiber formers.
 Tropocollagen IV is an important structural
component of the BASAL LAMINA.
Fibers are cross-linked to each other by desmosin and
isodesmosin found between elastin molecules.
Can be stretched to about 150% of their original length.
Elastin fibers remains unfolded as a "random coil".
They resume their original length if the tensile forces
applied to the elastic fibers are relaxed.

Medical significance:
 KELOID – abnormal amount of collagen fibers
formed in the scars of the skin.
 Systemic SCLEROSIS – excessive accumulation of
collagen in skin, digestive tract, kidneys – hardened
and dysfunctional impairment of organs affected
 Vitamin C deficiency (SCURVY) – hydroxylation of
prolyl and lysyl residues (AAs) in the endoplasmic
reticulum can be inhibited, producing defective
collagen (non-reversible) – DEGENERATION of
connective tissue.
 Vit. C is a COFACTOR of proline hydroxylase.