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Reticular Connective Tissue

Although present as the supportive tissue of lymph nodes, glands, organs, and bone marrow, reticular connective tissue is not that obvious.  Small, branching, collagen fibers that form the reticular connective tissue are usually hidden from view by the numerous lymphatic, epithelial, or bone marrow cells anchored to them.  The stroma, or supporting network of reticular fibers is best seen with special stains.

To better visualize reticular fibers and their purpose, consider the analogy of building a float for a parade.  A wire mesh made from "chickenwire" is typically stapled into position first.  The branching, inter-connecting wires of this chickenwire form a reticulum or network where tissues, flowers, or other brightly colored materials are placed.  The "chickenwire" is the equivalent of reticular fibers.  The tissues, flowers, or colored objects placed within the meshwork are the equivalent of cells!

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