extracellular matrix

extracellular matrix
(ECM) any material produced by cells and excreted to the extracellular space within the tissues. It takes the form of both ground substance and fibers and is composed chiefly of fibrous elements, proteins involved in cell adhesion, and glycosaminoglycans and other space-filling molecules. It serves as a scaffolding holding tissues together and its form and composition help determine tissue characteristics. In epithelia, it includes the basement membrane.

Medical dictionary. 2011.

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