Difference Between Cartilage and Ligament

Cartilage vs Ligament

Connective tissues are the most abundant tissue in the body. It mainly consists of three main components, namely cells, fibers and extracellular matrix. The main functions of connective tissues include, storage of energy, protection of organs, make structural framework for the body, connection of body tissues etc. Cartilages and ligaments are considered as important connective tissues that associate with bones, to provide the support framework of the musculoskeletal system. The characteristic cells called fibroblast produce the fibers of the proteins collagen and elastin in these connective tissues.

What is Cartilage?

Cartilage is a type of specialized connective tissue in which collagen fibers laid down along lines of stress in long, parallel arrays. It does not have blood vessels, nerves and lymphatic vessels in its extracellular matrix. The ground substance of cartilage is made up of a special type of glycoprotein, called ‘chondroitin’. Ground substance also has spaces called lacunae. The cells of cartilage called chondrocytes live within these spaces and are responsible for the production and maintaining of cartilaginous matrix. The arrangement of fibers and composition of the tissue makes it more flexible and tough with great tensile strength.

In agnathas and cartilaginous fishes, the entire skeletal system is made up of cartilage tissue. In most adult vertebrates, cartilage is restricted to certain locations like joint surfaces of bones that form freely movable joints. In humans, the tip of the nose, the outer ear, the intervertebral disks of the backbone, the larynx, and a few other structures are composed of cartilage tissue. Cartilage mainly acts as shock absorbers and forms gristly cushion between bones in cartilaginous or slightly moveable joints.

What is Ligament?

Ligaments are a type of connective tissue that connect bone to bone at joints, and are similar to tendons. They are important to hold the bones together and keep them in place. Extracapsular ligaments are located on the external capsular surface while intracapsular ligaments are located within the joint capsule. Ligament connects bone to bone, whereas tendon connects muscle to bone. Ligaments consist of approximately 70% water, 25% collagen, and 5% ground substance and elastin. Collagen fibers are formed together in parallel bundles that lie along the functional axis of the ligament. The parallel arrangement of collagen fibers makes the ligament tissue very stiff and high in tensile strength. When a tension is applied to a ligament, it gradually lengthens, and when the tension is removed, it returns to its original shape.

What is the difference between Cartilage and Ligament?

• Ligament acts as strong binding material that fasten bones together, whereas cartilage protects bones and stops them from knocking together by acting as a cushion in between bones.

• Ligaments are more elastic than cartilages.

• Ligaments have little resistance to compression or shear than cartilages.

• Cartilages are stiffer than ligaments.

• In the classification of connective tissues, ligaments are classified under connective tissue proper, whereas cartilages are classified under skeletal tissues.

• Cartilage cells called chondrocytes lie in lacunae, in single or in groups of two or four while the cells of ligaments known as fibroblasts lie scattered throughout the matrix of ligament tissue.