The Morphology, Morphogenesis, and Senescence of Mammalian Connective Tissue
VanderLinde, Gretchen E.
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At one time or another the prospect of growing old occupies the thoughts of every mortal being. As we glance in a mirror or at our friends and loved ones, we'are constantly, although perhaps not consciously, aware of changes with time in appearance and behavior. Such changes eventually influence almost every aspect of life. As a result, the social, economical and psychological implications of aging alone are sufficient to make it one of the major concerns of our times. However, the nature of this project precludes an examination of these areas. Instead, the discussion will center around the biological and medical aspects of senescence, although the reader is asked to keep in mind the broader implications of this process. For the subject of this paper I selected only a small facet of the overall aging phenomenon--namely, the senescence of connective tissue. This, in turn necessitated an investigation of the morphology of connective tissue and its constituents, which I chose to include in the paper in an effort to facilitate the reader's understanding of the basic subject. Throughout the paper I have also endeavored to relate this specific aspect to the aging of the entire organism, on a practical as well as a theoretical basis. This provides an explanation for the section entitled "Historical Perspective." In order for the reader to appreciate fully the significance of many statements concerning present-day gerontological research, I felt it was important for him to see how these ideas have developed. Finally, I have also attempted to relate the senescence of mammalian connective tissue to the universe in which we live; hence, the concluding discussion of aging in terms of a thermodynamic consideration.