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Anatomy Atlases: Atlas of Microscopic Anatomy: Section 1 - Cells Atlas of Microscopic Anatomy: Section 3 - Connective Tissue

Plate 3.50: Mesenchyme

Fetal pig

Ronald A. Bergman, Ph.D., Adel K. Afifi, M.D., Paul M. Heidger, Jr., Ph.D.
Peer Review Status: Externally Peer Reviewed

Fetal pig

Plate 3.50: Mesenchyme

Pig, 10% formalin, H. & E., A. 88 x; B. 55 x; C. 220 x.

Mesenchymal connective tissue has a delicate spongy consistency and is composed of cells and a viscous matrix or ground substance containing few fibers.

Mesenchymal cells are characterized by oval elongate nuclei with prominent nucleoli and a mix of hetero- and euchromatin. These cells have little cytoplasm but many thin processes that appear to extend from the nucleus. Mesenchymal cells can differentiate into most of the adult connective tissue cell types, including: (1) fibroblasts, (2) chondroblasts, (3) osteoblasts, (4) odontoblasts, (5) reticular cells, and (6) adipocytes.

The matrix is composed of two classes of compounds: glycosaminoglycans and structural glycoproteins.

In this plate, note several of the mature cell types that have differentiated from mesenchymal cells. Examine the developing tooth in A (also those in Plates 183, 184, 185) and the developing hair follicles in B.

Meckel, 1781 -1833, was a German comparative anatomist and embryologist.

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