Extracellular Matrix

In each animal tissue, cells are surrounded by an extracellular matrix (ECM), which provides a physical scaffold for cells and initiates biochemical and biomechanical processes [2]. Its importance has been already shown in diseases with genetic ECM abnormalities such as various skin diseases, chondrodysplasias, or Ehlers-Danlos and Marfan syndromes [3].

The ECM is a mixture of many different components including water, proteins, polysaccharides, and proteoglycans. The composition varies between tissues despite of the same building elements. The internal structure of the matrix is well organized, which comes from both intrinsic properties of building molecules and activities of cells. The ECM plays an important role in regulating cell functions such as cellular morphology, adhesion, migration, proliferation, apoptosis, etc. The active participation of the ECM in cellular functions denotes that the molecular composition of the matrix is not constant but undergoes constant remodeling [4, 5].

 
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