A common characteristic of connective tissue is the presence of diffused cells throughout an extracellular matrix. Fibrous proteins and glycoproteins are typically present within this matrix.
Connective tissue supports and binds other tissues together. There are many different types of connective tissue, including loose, dense and specialized connective tissue.
Loose connective tissue is the most common type found in the body. This tissue holds organs in place, while also attaching epithelial tissue to other forms of tissue. There are three types of loose connective tissue: elastic fibers, reticular fibers and collagenous fibers. Reticular fibers connect other tissues to connective tissue and elastic fibers are a stretchable form of connective tissue. Collagenous fibers are, as the name suggests, composed of bundles of collagen.
Examples of dense connective tissue include tendons and ligaments. Tendons connect muscle to bone, whereas ligaments connect bone to bone. Packed collagenous fibers form a significant component of dense connective tissue.
Adipose, cartilage, blood and lymph characterize the specialized connective tissues. Adipose tissue is a type of loose connective tissue that insulates the body against heat loss. It forms a layer of fat around organs and various body cavities. Cartilage is a form of dense connective tissue that offers flexibility in parts of the body, such as the nose and ears. Blood also has an extracellular matrix and is therefore considered a type of connective tissue. Lymph is a component of the immune system that helps the body fight against pathogens.