Connective tissue acts to support your body, connect different tissues/organs/cells together, and to separate different tissues from each other. Without connective tissue, your body would fall apart. Your body has many different types of connective tissue:
- Fibrous: Also called proper connective tissue. This is the collagen and other fibrous proteins that allow your organs to stay in place, allow your lungs and arteries to recoil and connect cells together.
- Fat or Adipose tissue: Adds cushioning and protection to organs.
- Blood: This one seems counterintuitive since it doesn’t seem to hold anything in place but your blood connects the different parts of your body, acting like a highway.
Specialized cells make connective tissue including fibroblasts. It is important in making much of your fibrous connective tissue. There are numerous disorders that occur when people have defects in their connective tissue. These can include:
- Marfan syndrome – abnormal protein important in making elastic fibres in the body. These fibres allow different organs to snap back to the original size, much like a rubber band.
- Osteogenesis imperfecta – also known as brittle bone disease. Caused by a problem in the formation of normal collagen making bone brittle.
- Lupus – autoimmune disorder that attacks the body’s connective tissue. Can affect every organ in the body, including the skin.
- Rheumatoid arthritis – autoimmune disorder where the immune system attacks the membrane covering around joins.
- Scurvy – caused by a lack of vitamin C in the diet. This causes abnormal collagen to form often leading to loosening of teeth and changes in skin texture.
Breakdown of your connective tissue as you age is largely responsible for wrinkles. Research is focused on how to keep your connective tissue together to slow the effects of aging.
Photo credit: Aszakal