Week 2

Online Histology Pre-lab

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Histology of Connective Tissues - 1

These pages illustrate the basic concepts in the histology of connective tissues. Most of the pictures here are from H&E stained sections. These pages are not a substitute for laboratory exercises. They offer some simple explanations and help in the interpretation of appearances.

Step 1 : Recognising a tissue as a connective tissue. In the pictures on this page, do NOT try to identify the specific tissue, just focus on the matrix and cells.

In this picture above observe the difference between the tissue above and below the arrow. The tissue above is highly cellular - the cells are packed to form a sheet. It is an epithelium. In stark contrast, the tissue below has cells separated by a large amount of intercellular substance. This is characteristic of connective tissues. At this stage ignore the red clumps at the bottom - they are red blood cells in capillaries.


Key point here :

Connective tissue : Matrix + cells

Epithelium : Compact arrangement of cells, no matrix.


Can you recognise the similarity between this tissue and the connective tissue in the picture on the left? Again, a large amount of material between the cells. However, the intercellular material seems to be more compact.


More of the same in this picture, but the intercellular material is really dense, and do you notice that the cells seem to be surrounded by clear spaces?

Matrix of connective tissue consists of fibres arranged as loose or dense bundles; and the spaces between fibres are occupied by  amorphous (formless) 'ground substance'. In these H&E sections you cannot distinguish between the types of fibres (what are the types of fibres?); but you can see that they are arranged in a loose or dense manner.

Each type of connective tissue has a principal type of cell that produces all components of the matrix.

The next page deals with structure-function relationship in the types of connective tissues.


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