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Found throughout the body, areolar tissue is a type of connective tissue. It consists of cells and various properties of the tissue’s intercellular matrix. Cushioning surrounding organs, connecting different tissues, and supporting blood vessels represent just a few of the functions of this specific connective tissue.
Areolar tissue is composed of several cell types. Among the mix of cells are adipose cells, better known as fat cells, mast cells and macrophages. The remaining composition includes leukocytes and plasma cells.
Like other loose connective tissues, areolar connective tissue consists of three different types of fibers. These fibers include collagenous fibers, elastic fibers and reticular fibers. Together these fibers make up the traditional weaved appearance of areolar, and other loose connective tissues.
The intercellular matrix of areolar tissue is composed of the matrix of collagenous, elastic and reticular fibers and ground substance. Proteins and proteoglycans contribute to the makeup of ground substance. Ground substance works to hold together the various properties of this tissue.
Various cells and properties of the intercellular matrix of this tissue can be seen under a microscope. Under the microscope collagenous, elastic, and reticular fibers appear as pink bands of varying widths arranged in no distinct pattern. Fibroblasts may appear as dark dots with finger-like extensions. The surrounding substance, referred to as the ground substance, appears as a light stain on microscope slides but may be difficult to see.
Organs throughout the body rely on connective tissue for support. The largest organ in the human body, the skin, depends on the pliable, fluid-filled tissue to provide assistance with protecting the organs and other structures located within the human body. In addition, you can find areolar tissue working in conjunction with the epithelial tissues of the body.
Epithelial membranes, the term for the convergence of epithelial and connective tissues, line the various cavities of the human body, such as the abdomen and nasal cavities, and also line interior organs. Blood vessels arising from the areolar tissue provide nutrition to the epithelial tissue found inside body cavities and lining organs. This tissue also transfers waste from the epithelial tissue and destroys harmful pathogens.
Since areolar tissue can be found lining blood vessels, the tissue also reaches into organs, muscles and tendons. Along with the job of supplying blood to the epithelial tissue, it provides leukocytes when necessary. Leukocytes fight infection within the cavities, organs and tissues of the human body.