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Other Terms: Muscle tissue, Textus muscularis, Muskelgewebe, Tejido fino del músculo
Muscle tissue is a highly specialized tissue made primarily of muscle cells, or myocytes, with little intervening extracellular material. It tends to be interwoven and bundled with thin enveloping sheets of connective tissue proper. Like most of the connective tissues, muscle tissue is vascular and supplied with many nerve endings. Muscle tissue is specialized to contract and accomplish the movements of the body. Muscle cells have a highly developed system of actin and myosin microfilaments known as myofilaments that interact to cause the muscle to shorten, generating force in the process. This forceful shortening movement is called muscle contraction. Another specialized capability of muscle tissue is its excitability. Muscle cells are able to undergo action potentials, or rapid changes in their membrane potential, in response to stimulation by nerves or other triggering events. This muscle excitation is responsible for initiating contraction. Muscle contraction is an important part of many body functions. The contractile movements generated by muscle cells move the skeleton, maintain posture, accomplish breathing, pump blood throughout the body, mix food with digestive enzymes and push the processed contents forward in the digestive system, and generate heat. Histologists divide muscle tissue into three categories: striated skeletal muscle, striated cardiac muscle, and nonstriated (smooth) muscle based on differences in their structural and functional properties. Muscle tissue activity is also the major source of heat generation within the body.
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