Ground substance is active in the development, movement, and proliferation of tissues, as well as their metabolism. Additionally, cells use it for support, water storage, binding, and a medium for intercellular exchange (especially between blood cells and other types of cells). Ground substance provides lubrication for collagen fibers.
The components of the ground substance vary depending on the tissue. Ground substance is primarily composed of water, glycosaminoglycans (GAGs) such as hyaluronic acid, heparan sulfate, dermatan sulfate, and chondroiton sulfate, proteoglycans which GAGs are bound to, and glycoproteins. Components of the ground substance are secreted by fibroblasts. Usually it is not visible on slides, because it is lost during staining in the preparation process.
Changes in the density of ground substance can allow collagen fibers to form aberrant cross-links.
Loose connective tissue is characterized by few fibers and cells, and a relatively large amount of ground substance. Dense connective tissue has a smaller amount of ground substance compared to the fibrous material.
The meaning of the term has evolved over time.
- "Connective Tissues - Functional Atlas of the Human Fascial System - 1". www.sciencedirect.com.
- "Connective Tissue". Archived from the original on 2008-11-07. Retrieved 2008-11-27.
- 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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