Functions of Connective Tissue

Connective tissue performs the following important functions in the body.

  1. As a packing material, connective tissue provides a supporting matrix for many highly organized structures.
  2. It forms restraining mechanism of the body in the form of retinacula, check ligaments and fibrous pulley.
  3. The ensheathing layer of deep fascia preserves the characteristic contour of the limbs and aids circulation in the veins and lymphatics.
  4. It provides surface coatings in the form of superficial fascia which stores fat and conserves body heat.
  5. It provides additional surface for attachment of muscles in the form of deep fascia, intermuscular septa and interosseous membranes.
  6. It forms fascial planes which provide convenient pathways for vessels (blood vessels and lymphatics) and nerves.
  7. 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.
  8. Connective tissue helps in the repair of injuries whereby the fibroblasts lay down collagen fibers to form the scar tissue.
  9. 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.-
  10. The plasma cells are capable of producing antibodies against specific antigens (foreign proteins).
  11. The mast cells, by producing histamine and serotonin, are responsible for the various inflammatory, allergic and hypersensitivity reactions.
  12. 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.
  13. 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.