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Reticular fibers

Recommended video: Reticular connective tissue [10:48]
Appearance and features of the reticular connective tissue.

Reticular fibers offer structural support for the cellular components found in various tissues and organs.

Reticular fibers are mainly composed of type III collagen. The reticular fibers lie in an amorphous matrix substance and are not oriented in orderly bundles. The fibrils that make the reticular fibers have a narrow diameter and are arranged to form a network or mesh-like pattern, often called reticulum. Fibroblasts produce proteins that assemble to form the reticular fibers.

Reticular tissue forms the stroma of the spleen, lymph nodes, red bone marrow, liver, and kidneys. In loose connective tissue, reticular fibers form networks at the boundary of the connective tissue and epithelium. They also surround the adipocytes, small blood vessels, nerves and muscle cells. 

Reticular fibers are also found in the initial stages of wound healing and scar formation. Here, they can be found providing mechanical strength to the extracellular matrix.

Another feature of reticular fibers is that they are not visible with conventional stains but respond to silver staining procedures like the Gomori and Wilder methods.

Terminology Reticular fibers 
Location Stroma of the spleen, lymph nodes, red bone marrow, liver, and kidneys.
Structural support and framework for the cellular components of various tissues and organs

Learn more about the reticular fibers in this study unit and article:

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