Functions of Connective Tissue
Connective tissue performs the following important functions in the body.
- As a packing material, connective tissue provides a supporting matrix for many highly organized structures.
- It forms restraining mechanism of the body in the form of retinacula, check ligaments and fibrous pulley.
- The ensheathing layer of deep fascia preserves the characteristic contour of the limbs and aids circulation in the veins and lymphatics.
- It provides surface coatings in the form of superficial fascia which stores fat and conserves body heat.
- It provides additional surface for attachment of muscles in the form of deep fascia, intermuscular septa and interosseous membranes.
- It forms fascial planes which provide convenient pathways for vessels (blood vessels and lymphatics) and nerves.
- In places where it is loose in texture (loose connective tissue) it facilitates movements between the adjacent structures, and by forming bursal sacs it minimizes friction and pressure effects.
- Connective tissue helps in the repair of injuries whereby the fibroblasts lay down collagen fibers to form the scar tissue.
- The macrophages of connective issue serve a defensive function against the bacterial invasion by their phagocytic activity. They also act as scavengers in removing the cell debris and foreign material.-
- The plasma cells are capable of producing antibodies against specific antigens (foreign proteins).
- The mast cells, by producing histamine and serotonin, are responsible for the various inflammatory, allergic and hypersensitivity reactions.
- Pigment cells protect the skin against ultraviolet radiation, so that the inflammatory changes typical sunburn do not occur, and the chromosomal damage in the dividing cells of epidermis is avoided.
- Connective tissue contains mesenchymal cells of embryonic type. These are capable of transformation into each type of the connective tissue cells with their discrete functions.