Biological research method in which tissue fragments (a cell, a population of cells, or all or part of an organ) are sustained in an artificial environment for examination and manipulation of cell behaviour. It has been used to study normal and abnormal cell structure; biochemical, genetic, and reproductive activity; metabolism, functions, and aging and healing processes; and reactions to physical, chemical, and biological agents (e.g., drugs, viruses). A tiny sample of the tissue is spread on or in a culture medium of biological (e.g., blood serum or tissue extract), synthetic, or mixed origin having the appropriate nutrients, temperature, and pH for the cells being incubated. The results are observed with a microscope, sometimes after treatment (e.g., staining) to highlight particular features. Some viruses also grow in tissue cultures. Work with tissue cultures has helped identify infections, enzyme deficiencies, and chromosomal abnormalities; classify brain tumours; and formulate and test drugs and vaccines.
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Soft, gelatinous tissue that fills bone cavities. Red bone marrow contains stem cells, progenitor cells, percursor cells, and functional blood cells (see reticuloendothelial system). Lymphocytes mature in the lymphoid organs (see lymphoid tissue). All other blood-cell formation occurs in red marrow, which also takes part in destruction of old erythrocytes (red blood cells). Yellow bone marrow mainly stores fats. Because the leukocytes (white blood cells) produced in bone marrow are involved in immune defenses, marrow transplants can treat some types of immunodeficiency. Radiation and some anticancer drugs can damage marrow and impair immunity. Bone-marrow examination helps diagnose diseases related to blood and blood-forming organs.
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Cells, tissues, and organs composing the immune system, including the bone marrow, thymus, spleen, and lymph nodes. The most highly organized components are the thymus and lymph nodes, and the least organized are the cells that wander in the loose connective-tissue spaces under membranes lining most body systems, where they can establish lymph nodules (local lymphocyte production centre) in response to antigens. The most common lymphoid tissue cell is the lymphocyte. Others are macrophages, which engulf foreign materials and probably alter them to initiate the immune response, and reticular cells, which produce and maintain thin networks of fibres as a framework for most lymphoid organs. Seealso immunity; lymphatic system.
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Tissue in the body that maintains the form of the body and its organs and provides cohesion and internal support, including bone, ligaments, tendons, cartilage, adipose tissue, and aponeuroses. Its major components are different kinds of cells and extracellular fibres and ground substance, which varies in consistency from thin gel to rigid structure. Various combinations of these elements make up the different kinds of connective tissue. Connective tissue diseases are either genetic disorders, attacking one of its elements (e.g., Marfan syndrome), or acquired inflammatory or immune-system diseases (e.g., rheumatoid arthritis, osteoarthritis, systemic lupus erythematosus, and rheumatic fever).
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Connective tissue consisting mainly of fat cells, specialized to synthesize and contain large globules of fat, within a structural network of fibres. It is found mainly under the skin but also in deposits between the muscles, in the intestines and in their membrane folds, around the heart, and elsewhere. The fat stored in this tissue comes from dietary fats or is produced in the body. It acts as a fuel reserve for times of starvation or great exertion, helps conserve body heat, and forms pads between organs.
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