Ground substance

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In connective tissue, the ground substance, also called extrafibrillar matrix, is an amorphous gel-like substance surrounding the cells. In a tissue, cells are surrounded and supported by an extracellular matrix. Ground substance traditionally does not include fibers (collagen and elastic fibers), but does include all the other components of the extracellular matrix.[1][dead link]

The components of the ground substance vary depending on the tissue. Ground substance is primarily composed of water, glycosaminoglycans (most notably hyaluronan), proteoglycans, and glycoproteins. Usually it is not visible on slides, because it is removed during the preparation process.[2]

The meaning of the term has evolved over time.[3]


  1. ^ "connective tissue" at Dorland's Medical Dictionary
  2. ^ "Connective Tissue". Retrieved 2008-11-27. 
  3. ^ Wheatley, D. N. (2003). "Diffusion, perfusion and the exclusion principles in the structural and functional organization of the living cell: Reappraisal of the properties of the 'ground substance'". Journal of Experimental Biology 206 (12): 1955–61. doi:10.1242/jeb.00238. PMID 12756276. 

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