Cartilage /ˈkɑrtɨlɨdʒ/ is a flexible connective tissue found in many areas in the bodies of humans and other animals, including the joints between bones, the rib cage, the ear, the nose, the bronchial tubes and the intervertebral discs. It is not as hard and rigid as bone but is stiffer and less flexible than muscle.

Cartilage is composed of specialized cells called chondroblasts that produce a large amount of extracellular matrix composed of collagen fibers, abundant ground substance rich in proteoglycan, and elastin fibers. Cartilage is classified in three types, elastic cartilage, hyaline cartilage and fibrocartilage, which differ in the relative amounts of these three main components. Chondroblasts that get caught in the matrix are called chondrocytes. They lie in spaces called lacunae with up to eight chondrocytes per lacuna.

Unlike other connective tissues, cartilage does not contain blood vessels. The chondrocytes are supplied by diffusion, helped by the pumping action generated by compression of the articular cartilage or flexion of the elastic cartilage. Thus, compared to other connective tissues, cartilage grows and repairs more slowly.

Read more about Cartilage:  Growth and Development, Imaging, Diseases and Treatment, Mechanical Properties

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Famous quotes containing the word cartilage:

    An English family consists of a few persons, who, from youth to age, are found revolving within a few feet of each other, as if tied by some invisible ligature, tense as that cartilage which we have seen attaching the two Siamese.
    Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803–1882)