Connective tissue: a body-wide complex system network?
University of Vermont
Last modified: April 25, 2006
In addition to forming an anatomical network throughout the body, unspecialized “loose” connective tissue also could potentially function as a body-wide complex mechanosensitive signaling network. Three categories of signals could plausibly occur within connective tissue: electrical, cellular and tissue remodeling. Each of these types of signals could respond to mechanical forces over different time scales and generate dynamic, evolving patterns that interact with one another. Such connective tissue signaling would be affected by changes in movement and posture, and may be altered in pathological conditions (e.g. local decreased mobility due to injury or pain). Connective tissue thus may function as a previously unrecognized whole body communication system. Since connective tissue is intimately associated with all other tissues (e.g. lung, intestine), connective tissue signaling may coherently influence (and be influenced by) the normal or pathological function of a wide variety of organ systems. Demonstrating the existence of a connective signaling network therefore may profoundly influence our understanding of health and disease.