Cartilage types, characteristics and location

Cartilage is of three types depending on its nature and location: hyaline, elastic and fibrous . Cartilages all have a few things in common: they constitute a special type of connective tissue.

In addition, various cartilages are both strong and flexible, and are distributed in various parts of the human body, from bones to nose , ears and organs, and have various functions. It avoids friction between the bony parts of a joint and helps resist impact.

cartilage definition

There are many different types of tissues in the body. As the so-called ‘connective tissue’, it provides structure, support and protection to other tissues and organs and performs related functions such as storing and transporting various substances .

Connective tissue includes blood, lymph, adipose tissue, cartilage and bone, which make up the osteoarticular system.

Most of the large bones of the fetus are initially formed from cartilage. It is then replaced through a process known as endochondral ossification .

Cartilage is also present in the ears, nose, trachea and other parts of the body, so it is often found in joints.

95% of this specialized connective tissue  is composed of an extracellular matrix and contains several types of collagen and hyaluronic acid . Similar cells are

  • fiber cell
  • fibroblasts
  • chondroblasts
  • chondrocyte

Chondroblasts and chondrocytes carry out the synthesis of collagen fibers. Finally, there are proteoglycans , extracellular matrix molecules that contain proteins and polysaccharides and are responsible for the compressibility of cartilage .

Cartilage is present in joints and other structures of the body, such as the ears, nose, and trachea.

cartilage tissue characteristics

Cartilage has several properties that distinguish it from other connective tissues:

  • Inside the cartilage, there are spaces called chondroblasts, or lacunae, in which chondrocytes are located.
  • Chondrocytes are mature cells and chondroblasts are immature cells.
  • Cartilage has no nerve endings or blood vessels .
  • For this reason, they are usually colorless or insensitive.
  • Cartilage tissue cells are  nourished by a process of passive diffusion through the matrix .

function of cartilage

First of all, cartilage is located between the articular surface of the bone and the bone, that is, in the joint. It is a tissue that allows movement while acting as a shock absorber that resists the forces exerted on the body.

Therefore , synovial fluid is deposited in the cartilage and acts as a lubricant to reduce the friction of movable joints .

On the other hand, it may be located between two bones rather than the joint itself, such as between the sternum and the ribs.

The cartilage of the ear and nasal septum plays a role in structure formation and, like tracheal cartilage, there is cartilage that constitutes the organ strengthening .

different types of cartilage

There are several types of cartilage: hyaline, elastic and fibrous, depending on their characteristics and functions .

1. Hyaline cartilage

Hyaline is the most abundant form of cartilage in the body . This type of cartilage is present in the nose, trachea, larynx, and even trachea, as well as in the articular ends of larger bones and ribs .

It consists of very few fibers and is covered by a connective tissue covering called the perichondrium. However, there is no perichondrium in the epiphysis or the iliac head.

Chondrocytes of hyaline cartilage are composed of ‘homogeneous groups’ . Insufficient blood supply, synovial fluid supplies nutrients.

Hyaline cartilage contains several types of collagen, but type II collagen predominates. It also contains proteoglucan and other non-collagenous proteins, which are pigmented around the ossicles where proteoglucan predominates and appear whitish.

2. Elastic Cartilage

As the name suggests, it is characterized by its flexibility due to the braiding of elastic materials as well as elastin and certain fibers . Also includes type II collagen.

It is found in various parts of the body, such as:

  • epiglottis
  • Larynx (cuneiform cartilage)
  • Eustachian tube
  • earflaps
  • ear canal wall

Like the cartilage types described above, perfusion is poor and there is also a sheath (perichondrium). However, unlike the former, elastic cartilage has many homogeneous groups and is  moderately yellowish.

3. Fibrocartilage

Fiber is also called ‘fibrocartilage’ and contains type I collagen. Although usually avascular, some cartilage has some blood supply.

Chondrocytes are arranged in parallel rows between bundles of collagen. On the other hand, the fibers in the matrix are denser and can withstand greater tensile forces .

It acts as a shock absorber providing resistance to compression. Thus, it regulates contraction and relaxation and prevents the possibility of tearing.

Although a combination of the two structurally different types, fibrocartilage lacks perichondrium and is present in the following body regions:

cartilage disease
Cartilage is classified into three types based on composition and function, but they are all forms of connective tissue.

Cartilage conditions and diseases

Cartilage can be affected by injuries that cause pain and inflammation, or by various diseases, deformities, and limited mobility .

In sports and physical activities in general (including dancing), injuries that can lead to ligament ruptures and other joint damage are not uncommon.

Similarly , there are diseases such as osteoarthritis in which the flexible tissue in the joints can degenerate , causing friction between the bones .

This damage is usually the result of age-related degeneration. However, arthritis can result from an immune system response that attacks its own tissues.

cartilage health

Some, but not all, cartilage conditions can be prevented. Avoid sudden and repetitive movements, especially when exercising or playing sports .

On the other hand, foods rich in vitamin C, collagen and omega 3, such as eggs, fish, dairy products and nuts, help to maintain cartilage .

Prevent damage to cartilage as well as joints by avoiding certain risk factors such as excessive physical activity, obesity, stress or poor diet.

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