Loose connective tissue is a relatively cellular connective tissue that contains three types of fibers that are loosely arranged and it also contains abundant ground substance. The loose arrangement of this type of connective tissue leaves spaces in between fibers these spaces are called Areolae (and because of these spaces, the loose connective tissue is sometimes called the Areolar Connective tissue even though the areolar tissue is actually a subtype of loose connective tissues). The loose connective is well vascularized and has no specific constant form.
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The loose connective tissue contains cells, fibers, and ground substances in roughly equal parts. Among the cells, the fibroblasts are the predominant cells; other types of connective tissue cells are also present, along with nerves and blood vessels. Collagen fibers predominate, but elastic and reticular fibers are also present. The loose connective tissue has a moderate amount of ground substance. The combination of these components gives a delicate consistency to the loose connective tissue making it flexible and not very resistant to stress.
Where is loose connective tissue found?
The loose connective tissue is found in various tissues and organs of the body depending on the type of loose connective, they are found in different tissues of the body; below is a list of locations of the loose connective tissue in the body and the associated type.
Loose Connective Tissue Location
- Lamina propria (areolar tissue)
- Blood vessels (Areolar tissue)
- Found in the ducts of glands (Areolar tissue)
- Bone marrow (Reticular tissue)
- Spleen (Reticular tissue)
- Lymph nodes (Reticular tissue)
- Umbilical cord (Mucoid tissue)
- Embryo (Mesenchyme – embryonic tissue)
Types of Loose Connective Tissue
- Loose Areolar Connective Tissue
- Mucoid connective tissue
- Reticular connective tissue
- Adipose connective tissue
- Mesenchyme: this is an embryonic type of loose connective tissue,it is a spongy tissue that serves as packing between the developing structures of the an embryo.
- Mucoid Tissue:this type of loose connective tissue also occurs in an embryo particularly prominent in the umbilical cord, where it is called Wharton’s jelly.
- Areolar Connective Tissue:is a loosely arranged connective tissue that is widely distributed in the body such as in gastrointestinal tract, blood vessels and ducts of glands. The areolar tissue contains collagen fibers, reticular fibers and a few elastic fibers embedded in a thin and almost fluid-like ground substance.
- Adipose Tissue: this type of tissue differs from other connective tissues in two respects: it contains more of fat cells and not the intercellular substances and secondly, each fat cell is surrounded by its own basal lamina.
- Reticular Connective Tissue:the reticular connective tissue is predominatly made up of reticuler fibers and characterized by a cellular framework as seen in lymphatic tissues and bone marrow.
Loose Connective Tissue Functions
- Collagen fibers provide stregnth and structural support to other tissues and organs
- Serves as a cushion
- The elastic fibers provide elasticity to the tissues and organs
- Provides blood supply to nearby epithelial tissue
- Immediately responds to epithelial injury or contact with antigens
- Adipose tissue helps in storage of lipids