Reticular connective tissue

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Reticular connective tissue is a type of loose irregular connective tissue and has a network of reticular fibers (fine type III collagen) that form a soft skeleton (stroma) to support the lymphoid organs (lymph nodes, red bone marrow, thymus, and spleen.) Reticular fibers are synthesized by special fibroblasts called reticular cells. The fibers are thin branching structures.

Adipose tissue is held together by reticular fibers.

They can be identified in histology by staining with a heavy metal like silver or the PAS stain that stains carbohydrates.

Reticular connective tissue resembles areolar connective tissue, but the only fibers in its matrix are reticular fibers, which form a delicate network along which fibroblasts called reticular cells lie scattered. Although reticular fibers are widely distributed in the body, reticular tissue is limited to certain sites. It forms a labyrinth-like stroma (literally, "bed or "mattress"), or internal framework, that can support many free blood cells (large lymphocytes) in lymph nodes, the spleen, and red bone marrow.

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