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Difference between Bone and Cartilage

The human skeletal system, which serves as a framework for the human body, is primarily made up of two types of specialized connective tissues: bone and cartilage. Both are made up of collagen, an extracellular matrix and the cells. The cells of bone are called osteocytes and the cells of cartilage are called chondrocytes.

Both the bone and cartilage support and protect the organs and tissues as well as assist in movement. They may appear similar in structure and function, but there is a huge difference between bone and cartilage. Let us see how a bone differs from a cartilage!


Bone is a hard, rigid connective tissue which forms the skeletal framework to provide support and shape for the human body, surface for muscle attachment and to assist in movement. It is a highly vascular living tissue, supplied with blood vessels, and comprises three types of bone cells: osteoblasts (progenitor cells), osteocytes (mature bone cells) and osteoclasts.

A bone can be classified into long, short, flat, irregular, sesamoid and sutural bones. Its tissue is of two types: compact and spongy. Accordingly, a bone can be a compact or spongy bone. Compact bone is dense and compact and forms the outer layer of the bone. Spongy bone is a spongy, honeycomb-like structure which forms the inner part of the bone. At the time of birth, we have around 300 soft bones in our body. As we grow some of the bones fuse together due to which an adult skeleton has around 206 bones.


Cartilage is a living connective tissue which is strong and flexible.It is mainly composed of cells called chondrocytes which are mixed with collagen or elastin fibers. It is found in different forms in our body and serves multiple functions. A cartilage is softer and more flexible than bone. It provides support and structure to various body tissues like ear, nose, larynx and acts as a cushion at the end of joints that protects bones from rubbing against each other. It can be of three types:

Elastic cartilage:

It mainly contains elastin fibers which make it more flexible than other types of cartilages. It maintains the shape as well as provides the flexibility to flexible body parts like ears, nose, larynx etc.


It is rich in collagen fibers that make it flexible, elastic and tough. It is more rigid and strong than other types of cartilages. It provides cushioning in high-stress areas of the body like between the bones of knee joints, hip joints and shoulder joints.

Hyaline cartilage:

It is the most abundant type of cartilage found in the body. It is smooth, transparent cartilage that coats the ends of the bone surfaces to reduce friction in the joints. It is mainly composed of collagen fibers.It lines the bones of joints where frequent movement occurs so commonly known as articular cartilage.

Based on the above information, some of the key differences between bond and cartilage are as follows:

Bone Cartilage
It is a hard and rigid connective tissue. It is smooth and flexible or less rigid connective tissue.
It provides a structural framework and shape for the body and makes movement possible. It reduces friction at the joints, acts as a shock absorber between weight-bearing joints, supports respiratory tract etc.
Bone is classified into long, short, flat, irregular, sesamoid, sutural bones. It has two types of tissue compact and spongy (compact and spongy bone). It is of three types: hyaline cartilage, elastic cartilage and fibrocartilage.
Bone cells include osteoblasts (progenitor cells), osteocytes (mature bone cells) and osteoclasts for growth and repair of bones. It comprises chondroblasts (precursor cells), chondrocytes and a dense matrix made of collagen and elastic fibers.
It is highly vascular, supplied with blood vessels. It is avascular, lacks blood vessels.
Marrow cavity is present where blood cells are formed. It lacks the marrow cavity.
It is covered by periosteum. It is covered by perichondrium.
Its matrix has a protein called ossein. Its matrix has a protein called chondrin.
The matrix occurs in the form of thins sheets called lamellae and has calcium salts like calcium phosphates. The matrix is a homogenous mass which lacks lamellae and may or may not have calcium salts.
It has bidirectional growth pattern. It has unidirectional growth pattern.
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