box 5.1. Clinical Correlations: Collagenopathies 136

box 5.2. Functional Considerations: The Mononuclear Phagocytotic System 144

o general structure and function of connective tissue

Connective tissue comprises a diverse group of cells embedded in a tissue-specific extracellular matrix

In general, connective tissue consists of cells and an extracellular matrix that includes fibers, ground substance, and tissue fluid. It forms a vast and continuous compartment throughout the body, bounded by basal laminae of the various epithelia and by the basal or external lamina of muscle cells and nerve supporting cells.

Different types of connective tissue are responsible for a variety of functions

The functions of the various connective tissues are reflected in the types of cells and fibers present within the tissue and the character of the ground substance in the extracellular matrix. For example, in loose connective tissue, many different cell types are present (Fig. 5.1). One type, the fibroblast, produces the extracellular fibers^that serve a structural role irTtRe tissue. They also produce and maintain the ground substance. Other cell types, such as lym-

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