Connective tissue offers structural and metabolic support structure for organs and tissue. It is the most abundant tissue type in the body and can be found throughout. Cells and extracellular material called connective tissue matrix make up connective tissue.
Fibroblasts, mast cells, macrophages, adipose cells, blood leukocytes, and plasma cells can all be found to some degree in connective tissue. In addition to cells, the matrix has 3 different fibers present:
- Reticular fibers (reticulin) - Support soft organs and the network around nerve fibers, fats cells, lymph nodes, and muscle fibers.
- Collagenous fibers - Found in ligaments, tendons, cartilage, and bone.
- Elastic fibers - Allow tissue to expand and are typically located in skin and blood vessel walls.