• Fibers. Matrix fibers are proteins that provide support for the connective tissue. There are three types: • Collagen fibers, made of the protein collagen, are both tough and flexible. • Elastic fibers, made of the protein elastin, are strong and stretchable. • Reticular fibers, made of thin collagen fibers with a glycoprotein coating, branch frequently to form a netlike (reticulate) pattern. • Ground substance. Ground substance may be fluid, gel, or solid, and, except for blood, is secreted by the cells of the connective tissue: • Cell adhesion proteins hold the connective tissue together. • Proteoglycans provide the firmness of the ground substance. Hyaluronic sulfate and chondroitin sulfate are two examples. • Classification. There are five general categories of mature connective tissue: • Loose connective tissue has abundant cells among few or loosely arranged fibers
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