Gersh, Isidore Department of Animal Biology, School of Veterinary Medicine, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
Last reviewed:April 2021
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A principal type of connective-tissue cell. Fibroblasts are large, flat, stellate or spindle-shaped connective-tissue cells found in virtually all animal organs (see illustration). They constitute the most common type of cells in mammalian connective tissue, which is fibrous and made largely of collagen (the most abundant protein in mammals). The exact form of fibroblasts varies with their function and site of action. When they are inactive, fibroblasts are often referred to as fibrocytes. Upon stimulation, fibroblasts produce collagen precursors (including tropocollagen) and other proteins, along with substances that bind cells into fibrous tissues, providing structural integrity and support. Fibroblasts thereby define the appearance and strength of connective tissue, as well as its ability to adhere to other tissue types. As such, fibroblasts play a chief role in wound repair following tissue damage. When a tissue is injured, fibroblasts migrate to the damaged area, where they undergo mitosis (replication and division) and deposit new proteins, thereby aiding the healing process. See also: Cell (biology); Cell biology; Cell division; Collagen; Connective tissue; Mitosis
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