Areolar tissues are considered one of the loose connective tissues and can be seen in abundance throughout the body. The term ‘areolar’ means ‘little open spaces’ and, as the name suggest, the areolar tissues contains multiple air filled spaces which provide flexibility and the ability to cushion while being strong enough to bind different types of tissues.
What are the common sites containing areolar tissues?
One of its major tasks is to bind the skin to its underlying muscles and therefore the areolar tissues can be found in both the dermis as well as in the sub-cutaneous layers of the skin. Furthermore, these loose connective tissues are also seen around blood vessels and around nerves while it forms a covering for most body organs and joint surfaces. Apart from these locations, areolar tissues are also seen around the mucous membranes as well.
What are the constituents of areolar connective tissues?
They are mainly formed of a loose gelatinous ground substance and within the ground substance; different types of fibers are arranged in a meshwork, while the cells are located within. Most fibers forming this meshwork are collagenous fibers while the others are elastic and reticular fibers. The significance of the arrangement of fibers in areolar connective tissues is its multi-directional layout in contrast to unidirectional arrangement seen in many other types of connective tissues.
The collagen fibers can be thought of as providing the tensile strength of the areolar tissues while the elastic fibers provide flexibility and the ability to stretch. The reticular fibers are usually the ones which allow the connective tissues to link-up with various other types of connective tissues and therefore provide it with the binding ability.
Among the cells that are present within this meshwork, fibroblasts, plasma cells, adipocytes, mast cells, and macrophages can be highlighted. When considering these various cell types, the commonest is the fibroblasts and other cell types would appear in variable amounts at variable times. Furthermore, numerous blood vessels can also be seen within the connective tissue and such appearances can be extremely variable depending on the site and its function.
Apart from the above-mentioned constituents, the significant amount of empty spaces present in areolar connective tissues makes it distinguishable from other similar types of connective tissues.
What is the function of areolar connective tissue?
In brief, the functions of areolar tissues can be explained as providing support, strength and elasticity. Furthermore, it provides a high degree of mobility between adjacent body parts and enables forming linkages between organs.