Three main types of fibers are secreted by fibroblasts: collagen fibers, elastic fibers, and reticular fibers. Collagen fiber is made from fibrous protein subunits linked together to form a long, straight fiber. Collagen fibers, while flexible, have great tensile strength, resist stretching, and give ligaments and tendons their characteristic resilience and strength. These fibers hold connective tissues together, even during the body's movement.
Connective tissue proper includes loose connective tissue and dense connective tissue. Dense connective tissue contains more collagen fibers than does loose connective tissue. As a consequence, it displays greater resistance to stretching. Dense regular elastic tissue contains elastin fibers and collagen fibers, allowing the ligament to return to its original length after stretching. The skin's dermis is an example of dense irregular connective tissue rich in collagen fibers. Hyaline cartilage, the most common type of cartilage in the body, consists of short and dispersed collagen fibers and contains large amounts of proteoglycans. Fibrocartilage is tough because it has thick bundles of collagen fibers dispersed through its matrix. Menisci in the knee joint and the intervertebral discs are examples of fibrocartilage. Elastic cartilage contains elastic fibers as well as collagen and proteoglycans.
This text is adapted from Openstax, Anatomy and physiology 2e, Section 4.3: Connective tissue supports and protects.
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