Cartilage is a specialized form of CT.
Blood, bone, adipose tissue, reticular
tissue (found in bone marrow, lymph nodes and spleen), and mucous
tissue (found in the umbilical cord) are other types of specialized CT. All
these specialized CT, as well as CT proper, are characterized by the
varying proportions of the ground substance, fibers, and cells.
Cartilage is characterized by an extracellular matrix (ground substance)
rich in glycosaminoglycans (GAGs), and proteoglycans.
The GAGs are
Within this matrix are
collagen Type II fibers and elastic fibers. Cartilage cells are either
Chondros is the Greek word for cartilage.
So, chondroitin sulfate was
named because of its abundance in cartilage.
collagen fibers are
also found in abundance in cartilage.
This does not mean that other
collagen fibers and other GAGS are not found in cartilage, but the
characterizing matrix of cartilage consists of chondroitin sulfate with Type II
collagen fibers imbedded in the ground substance
Cartilage is relatively stiff and solid; it is more flexible and resilient than
It has a consistency like firm and thick jello.
It is very viscous.
GAGS and proteoglycans are enormously hydrated (bind water). These
physical properties, viscous, stiffness, jello-like, are due to the hydrated
GAGS and proteoglycans extracellular matrix. The collagen fibers impart
tensile strength to cartilage, just like they do in all types of CT
During fetal development, cartilage plays a major role in the development
of the axial skeleton but, after post natal growth ceases, cartilage is found
in only a few places in the body.
Therefore, nutrients and oxygen
must diffuse in from capillaries outside
the cartilage. Capillaries in the
perichondrium must supply all the nutrients, including oxygen, to the