Ernestina Schipani, M.D., Ph.D., Professor Department of Orthopaedic Surgery, Department of Medicine and Endocrinology, University of Michigan Medical School
Cartilage is the substance in your external ear that gives it shape but allows flexibility. Cartilage also provides a smooth surface for the articulation of your joints. The cells that make cartilage are called chondrocytes. In this image, a chondrocyte is shown at very high magnification (the image was taken on a transmission electron microscope). Surrounding the cell are numerous fiber-like structures. These collagen fibers, which are secreted by the chondrocytes, make up the majority of the cartilage matrix and bestow visco-elastic properties on this matrix. The cells secrete so much of this matrix that they actually entrap themselves in it.