In biology, the extracellular matrix (ECM) is the extracellular part of animal tissue that usually provides structural support to the animal cells in addition to performing various other important functions. The extracellular matrix is the defining feature of connective tissue in animals.
Extracellular matrix includes the interstitial matrix and the basement membrane. Interstitial matrix is present between various animal cells (i.e., in the intercellular spaces). Gels of polysaccharides and fibrous proteins fill the interstitial space and act as a compression buffer against the stress placed on the ECM. Basement membranes are sheet-like depositions of ECM on which various epithelial cells rest.
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