Opinions on Cartilage

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Cartilage /ˈkɑrtɨlɨ/ is a flexible connective tissue in 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 it is stiffer and less flexible than muscle.

Because of its rigidity, cartilage often serves the purpose of holding tubes open in an animal's body. Examples include the rings of the trachea, such as the cricoid cartilage and carina, the torus tubarius at the opening of the pharyngotympanic/auditory tube, the ala of the nostrils, and the auricle/pinna of the ear.

Cartilage is composed of specialized cells called chondrocytes that produce a large amount of collagenous extracellular matrix, abundant ground substance that is rich in proteoglycan and elastin fibers. Cartilage is classified in three types, elastic cartilage, hyaline cartilage and fibrocartilage, which differ in relative amounts of cartilage. Chondroblasts that get caught in the matrix are called chondrocytes.

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


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