Biology (NTSE/Olympiad)  

2. Tissue


(a) Cartilage
Characteristics. Cartilage is a hard but flexible skeletal tissue consisting of living cells embedded in a matrix. The cells (chondroblasts) become chondrocytes when get surrounded within special fluid-filled chambers, called lacunae (sing. lacuna). The lacunae (containing chondrocytes)are separated by the amorphous matrix (chondrin) that contains glycoproteins, collagen and elastic fibres. The surface of cartilage is surrounded by irregular connective tissue forming the perichondrium. Growth of cartilage occurs continuously due to multiplication of chondrocytes by mitosis, deposition of matrix within existing cartilage and from activity of the deeper cells of the perichondrium. Blood vessels and nerves are absent in the matrix.

Occurrence. This tissue occurs in very few parts of the body. In humans, the cartilage occurs at the ends of long bones, the pinnae of ears, the ends of nose, in the walls of respiratory ducts, within intervertebral discs, etc. In sharks and rays, the entire skeleton is cartilage.
Functions. Cartilage is more compressible than bone. It absorbs stresses and provides flexibility to the body parts.


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