Welcome to the wonderful world of histology. Histology is how we study the human body on the cellular level. Tissue can be classified into four different types: Epithelial, connective, nerve, and muscle tissue. This week we are looking at connective tissue, but we are getting specific.
Connective tissue can be further divided into hard and soft tissue. Included in soft tissue is dense, loose, regular, and irregular connective tissue. Today we are looking at dense regular connective tissue. This is the type of connective tissue that is densely packed with fibres of collagen running seamlessly in the same direction. The cells that produce these sheets of collagen fibres are a type of fibroblast called tenocytes.
Dense regular connective tissue forms tendons and ligaments. Ligaments run along the sides of joints. Running from bone to bone ligaments adds stability to the joint, helping to create tension to the joint surfaces in contact.
Ligaments prevent the joint from sliding laterally, sideways out of place, and stop the joint from excessively bending which would cause damage. To perform these functions ligaments have to be tough and strong but their strength is directional. Strong in one direction but weaker in the other that’s why when exposed to shearing lateral forces they are more likely to tear.
This is the same for tendons. Tendons join muscle to bone and are composed of dense connective tissue. tendons have the contractile force of muscles running through them working against the weight of the bone and limb because of this they must be strong. Tendons can have the force of five times the body weight through them. Thanks to the structure of dense connective tissue, tendons and ligaments can handle these forces.
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