Connective tissueConnective tissue is any type of biological tissue with an extensive extracellular matrix. There are several basic types:
- Bone contains specialized cells called osteocytes embedded in a mineralized extracellular matrix, and functions for general support.
- Loose connective tissue holds organs and epithelia in place, and has a variety of proteinaceous fibers, including collagen and elastin.
- Fibrous connective tissue has great tensile strength, due to a high concentration of collagenous fibers. It is found in ligaments and tendons.
- In the osteichthyes, cartilage makes up virtually the entire skeleton. In most other vertebrates, it is found primarily in joints, where it provides cushioning. The extracellular matrix of cartilage is composed primarily of chondroitin sulfate.
- The extracellular matrix of blood is the blood plasma, which transports dissolved nutrients, hormones, and carbon dioxide in the form of bicarbonate. The main cellular component is red blood cells.
- Adipose tissue may best be thought of as having an intracellular matrix rather than an extracellular one. Its cellss contain large droplets of fat. Adipose tissue provides cushioning and long-term energy storage.