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Loose Connective Tissues

Three types of loose connective tissue are recognized.  These include areolar, adipose, and reticular types.  Areolar and adipose are the most abundant types and these are typically found together in most body locales where blood vessels, nerves, ducts, and other structures are passing through tissues.  Mesentery wrappings that support organs and blood vessels of the abdomen are also good examples, consisting primarily of loose and adipose tissue.  In most tissues, loose connective and adipose are common as supportive wrappings for glandular structures, hair follicles, blood vessels, nerves, and other structures.

Elasticity is one important attribute of adipose and areolar types.  For example, forces exerted on blood vessels and nerves vary dramatically as you contract muscles in your arms and legs for various movements.  Elasticity of wrappings around these structures enable them to accommodate stretch.  Shock absorption is a second  key attribute of adipose and areolar connective tissues.   Around organs such as the kidneys loose connective tissue types act as vibration dampening supportive tissues.  In complex joints, adipose pads also serve this purpose.  Finally, adipose is an important energy storage tissue surrounding active organs such as the heart, kidney, certain glands and in bone marrow areas.  

Reticular connective tissue is supportive tissue making up the framework of glands, organs, and lymph nodes. Special stains are usually required to see the fine, branching collagen fibers making up reticular connective tissues.  In glands and organs, secretory epithelial cells are attached and anchored to this network of fibers.  So, you might think of reticular connective tissue as the gland or organ equivalent of skeletal tissue, the supportive tissue for other tissues making up these glands and organs.

Loose connective tissue types:

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