Loose connective tissue fills spaces not occupied by other tissues, supports and nourishes epithelial cells, involves nerves, muscles and lymphatic blood vessels.
In addition, it is part of the structure of many organs and plays an important role in healing processes.
It is the most widely distributed tissue in the human body. Its fundamental substance is viscous and very hydrated. This viscosity represents to some extent a barrier against the penetration of foreign elements into the fabric. It consists of three main components: cells of various types, three types of fibers and matrix.
The fibers present in loose connective tissue are of three types: collagen, elastic and reticular.
Collagen fibers are made up of collagen, perhaps the most abundant protein in the animal kingdom. They are thick and sturdy, stretching slightly when tensioned. The collagen fibers present in the dermis provide resistance to our skin, preventing it from tearing when stretched.
Elastic fibers are long strands of a protein called elastin. They impart elasticity to loose connective tissue, completing the strength of collagen fibers. When you pull and release the skin from the top of your hand, it is the elastic fibers that quickly return the skin to its original shape. The loss of skin elasticity that occurs with aging is due to the fact that the collagen fibers will, with age, unite with one another, making the connective tissue more rigid.
The reticular fibers are branched and form a firm braid that connects the connective tissue to neighboring tissues.
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Loose connective tissue contains two main cells: fibroblasts and macrophages.
The fibroblasts have big core star shape. They make and secrete the proteins that make up the fibers and the amorphous substance.
The macrophages they are large and amoeboid, continually moving between fibers looking for bacteria and cell debris. Its function is to clean the tissue, phagocytizing infectious agents that penetrate the body and also remains of dead cells. Macrophages also identify substances that are potentially dangerous to the body, alerting the body's defense system.
Other cell types present in loose connective tissue are mesenchymal cells and the plasmocytes. Mesenchymal cells have a high multiplication capacity and allow the regeneration of connective tissue, as they give rise to any type of cell present in it. Plasmocytes are cells that specialize in producing antibodies that fight foreign substances that penetrate tissue.