Hyaline cartilage is a type of strong but flexible connective tissue with a characteristic bluish-white color. It is found in various parts of the body where a hard but not rigid structure is necessary, such as the insertion of the ventral ribs in the sternum, nostrils, ears, various areas of the larynx, tracheal rings , bronchi and articular surfaces.

It is formed by a very complex three-dimensional matrix of fibrils composed mainly of type II collagen and chondroitin sulfate, substances synthesized by cells called chondrocytes . Chondrocytes are located in holes that are distributed throughout the cartilage matrix and are known as lacunae . Surrounding the fibril matrix is ​​a membrane called the perichondrium, which contains the blood vessels that carry the necessary nutrients for chondrocytes and cartilage. There is no perichondrium in the hyaline cartilage of the joints.

The most outstanding functions

Although hyaline cartilage can be very hard, even when touched superficially it can be mistaken for bone, it is not a calcified tissue . The hardness of hyaline cartilage is due to the specific joints that appear between the different components of this type of cartilage, which give it great resistance while maintaining a certain degree of flexibility. These characteristics allow it to withstand extension and compression forces , essential for the functions of the hyaline cartilage. Among the most important we can mention the following:

  • Bra Function : Flexible bra is one of the main functions of hyaline cartilage. For example, it performs this function in the bronchi, in the sternal insertion of the ventral ends of the ribs, and on the surfaces of the joints.
  • Shock absorption and friction reduction : hyaline cartilage can absorb much of the impact pressure. It is especially important in joints . For example, in the kneecap and ankle it absorbs the impacts that occur when walking, jumping, running, etc. Related to this function, hyaline cartilage also reduces friction between articulated bones.
  • Elongation of long bones : elongation of the bones, essential during the growth stages, is possible thanks to the growth of hyaline cartilage in the physeal plate of the long bones.
  • Embryonic skeleton: the skeleton of embryos is made up of hyaline cartilage. It is a temporary skeleton until the skeleton is formed.

It is important to remember that there are no nerves or blood vessels in the tissue formed by hyaline cartilage. For this reason, it is a tissue that does not regenerate as fast as other tissues since it depends on the diffusion of oxygen and nutrients from the perichondrium and from tissues. When the hyaline cartilage is damaged, the chondrocytes transform into another cell type, the chondroblasts, which add materials to the cartilage matrix for repair and / or growth.