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Tissue in the body that maintains the form of the body and its organs and provides cohesion and internal support, including bone, ligaments, tendons, cartilage, adipose tissue, and aponeuroses. Its major components are different kinds of cells and extracellular fibres and ground substance, which varies in consistency from thin gel to rigid structure. Various combinations of these elements make up the different kinds of connective tissue. Connective tissue diseases are either genetic disorders, attacking one of its elements (e.g., Marfan syndrome), or acquired inflammatory or immune-system diseases (e.g., rheumatoid arthritis, osteoarthritis, systemic lupus erythematosus, and rheumatic fever).
This entry comes from Encyclopædia Britannica Concise. For the full entry on connective tissue, visit Britannica.com.