Epithelium

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Epithelium
Illu epithelium.jpg
Types of epithelium
Pronunciation epi- + thele + -ium
Identifiers
MeSH D004848
TH H2.00.02.0.00002
FMA 9639
Anatomical terms of microanatomy

Epithelium ( /ˌɛpɪˈθliəm/ ) [1] is one of the four basic types of animal tissue, along with connective tissue, muscle tissue and nervous tissue. Epithelial tissues line the outer surfaces of organs and blood vessels throughout the body, as well as the inner surfaces of cavities in many internal organs. An example is the epidermis, the outermost layer of the skin.

Contents

There are three principal shapes of epithelial cell: squamous, columnar, and cuboidal. These can be arranged in a single layer of cells as simple epithelium, either squamous, columnar, or cuboidal, or in layers of two or more cells deep as stratified (layered), or compound, either squamous, columnar or cuboidal. In some tissues, a layer of columnar cells may appear to be stratified due to the placement of the nuclei. This sort of tissue is called pseudostratified. All glands are made up of epithelial cells. Functions of epithelial cells include secretion, selective absorption, protection, transcellular transport, and sensing.

Epithelial layers contain no blood vessels, so they must receive nourishment via diffusion of substances from the underlying connective tissue, through the basement membrane. [2] [3] Cell junctions are well employed in epithelial tissues.

Classification

Summary showing different epithelial cells/tissues and their characteristics. 423 Table 04 02 Summary of Epithelial Tissue CellsN.jpg
Summary showing different epithelial cells/tissues and their characteristics.

In general, epithelial tissues are classified by the number of their layers and by the shape and function of the cells. [2] [4] [5]

The three principal shapes associated with epithelial cells are squamous, cuboidal, and columnar.

By layer, epithelium is classed as either simple epithelium, only one cell thick (unilayered), or stratified epithelium having two or more cells in thickness, or multi-layered – as stratified squamous epithelium, stratified cuboidal epithelium, and stratified columnar epithelium, [6] [7] and both types of layering can be made up of any of the cell shapes. [4] However, when taller simple columnar epithelial cells are viewed in cross section showing several nuclei appearing at different heights, they can be confused with stratified epithelia. This kind of epithelium is therefore described as pseudostratified columnar epithelium. [8]

Transitional epithelium has cells that can change from squamous to cuboidal, depending on the amount of tension on the epithelium. [9]

Simple epithelium

Simple epithelium is a single layer of cells with every cell in direct contact with the basement membrane that separates it from the underlying connective tissue. In general, it is found where absorption and filtration occur. The thinness of the epithelial barrier facilitates these processes. [4]

In general, simple epithelial tissues are classified by the shape of their cells. The four major classes of simple epithelium are (1) simple squamous, (2) simple cuboidal, (3) simple columnar, and (4) pseudostratified. [4]

(1) Simple squamous: Squamous epithelial cells appear scale-like, flattened, or rounded (e.g., walls of capillaries, linings of the pericardial, pleural, and peritoneal cavities, linings of the alveoli of the lungs).
(2) Simple cuboidal: These cells may have secretory, absorptive, or excretory functions. Examples include small collecting ducts of the kidney, pancreas, and salivary gland.
(3) Simple columnar: Cells can be secretory, absorptive, or excretory. Simple columnar epithelium can be ciliated or non-ciliated; ciliated columnar is found in the female reproductive tract and uterus. Non-ciliated epithelium can also possess microvilli. Some tissues contain goblet cells and are referred to as simple glandular columnar epithelium. These secrete mucus and are found in the stomach, colon, and rectum.
(4) Pseudostratified columnar epithelium: These can be ciliated or non-ciliated. The ciliated type is also called respiratory epithelium since it is almost exclusively confined to the larger respiratory airways of the nasal cavity, trachea, and bronchi.

Stratified epithelium

Stratified epithelium differs from simple epithelium in that it is multilayered. It is therefore found where body linings have to withstand mechanical or chemical insult such that layers can be abraded and lost without exposing subepithelial layers. Cells flatten as the layers become more apical, though in their most basal layers, the cells can be squamous, cuboidal, or columnar. [10]

Stratified epithelia (of columnar, cuboidal, or squamous type) can have the following specializations: [10]

SpecializationDescription
Keratinized In this particular case, the most apical layers (exterior) of cells are dead and lose their nucleus and cytoplasm, instead contain a tough, resistant protein called keratin. This specialization makes the epithelium somewhat water-resistant, so is found in the mammalian skin. The lining of the esophagus is an example of a non-keratinized or "moist" stratified epithelium. [10]
ParakeratinizedIn this case, the most apical layers of cells are filled with keratin, but they still retain their nuclei. These nuclei are pyknotic, meaning that they are highly condensed. Parakeratinized epithelium is sometimes found in the oral mucosa and in the upper regions of the esophagus. [11]
Transitional Transitional epithelia are found in tissues that stretch, and it can appear to be stratified cuboidal when the tissue is relaxed, or stratified squamous when the organ is distended and the tissue stretches. It is sometimes called urothelium since it is almost exclusively found in the bladder, ureters and urethra. [10]

Cell types

The basic cell types are squamous, cuboidal, and columnar, classed by their shape.

TypeDescription
SquamousSquamous cells have the appearance of thin, flat plates that can look polygonal when viewed from above. [12] Their name comes from squāma, Latin for "scale" – as on fish or snake skin. The cells fit closely together in tissues, providing a smooth, low-friction surface over which fluids can move easily. The shape of the nucleus usually corresponds to the cell form and helps to identify the type of epithelium. Squamous cells tend to have horizontally flattened, nearly oval-shaped nuclei because of the thin, flattened form of the cell. Squamous epithelium is found lining surfaces such as skin or alveoli in the lung, enabling simple passive diffusion as also found in the alveolar epithelium in the lungs. Specialized squamous epithelium also forms the lining of cavities such as in blood vessels (as endothelium), in the pericardium (as mesothelium), and in other body cavities.
CuboidalCuboidal epithelial cells have a cube-like shape and appear square in cross-section. The cell nucleus is large, spherical and is in the center of the cell. Cuboidal epithelium is commonly found in secretive tissue such as the exocrine glands, or in absorptive tissue such as the pancreas, the lining of the kidney tubules as well as in the ducts of the glands. The germinal epithelium that covers the female ovary, and the germinal epithelium that lines the walls of the seminferous tubules in the testes are also of the cuboidal type. Cuboidal cells provide protection and may be active in pumping material in or out of the lumen, or passive depending on their location and specialisation. Simple cuboidal epithelium commonly differentiates to form the secretory and duct portions of glands. [13] Stratified cuboidal epithelium protects areas such as the ducts of sweat glands, [14] mammary glands, and salivary glands.
ColumnarColumnar epithelial cells are elongated and column-shaped and have a height of at least four times their width. Their nuclei are elongated and are usually located near the base of the cells. Columnar epithelium forms the lining of the stomach and intestines. The cells here may possess microvilli for maximizing the surface area for absorption, and these microvilli may form a brush border. Other cells may be ciliated to move mucus in the function of mucociliary clearance. Other ciliated cells are found in the fallopian tubes, the uterus and central canal of the spinal cord. Some columnar cells are specialized for sensory reception such as in the nose, ears and the taste buds. Hair cells in the inner ears have stereocilia which are similar to microvilli. Goblet cells are modified columnar cells and are found between the columnar epithelial cells of the duodenum. They secrete mucus, which acts as a lubricant. Single-layered non-ciliated columnar epithelium tends to indicate an absorptive function. Stratified columnar epithelium is rare but is found in lobar ducts in the salivary glands, the eye, the pharynx, and sex organs. This consists of a layer of cells resting on at least one other layer of epithelial cells, which can be squamous, cuboidal, or columnar.
Pseudostratified These are simple columnar epithelial cells whose nuclei appear at different heights, giving the misleading (hence "pseudo") impression that the epithelium is stratified when the cells are viewed in cross section. Ciliated pseudostratified epithelial cells have cilia. Cilia are capable of energy-dependent pulsatile beating in a certain direction through interaction of cytoskeletal microtubules and connecting structural proteins and enzymes. In the respiratory tract, the wafting effect produced causes mucus secreted locally by the goblet cells (to lubricate and to trap pathogens and particles) to flow in that direction (typically out of the body). Ciliated epithelium is found in the airways (nose, bronchi), but is also found in the uterus and Fallopian tubes, where the cilia propel the ovum to the uterus.

Structure

Epithelial tissue is scutoid shaped, tightly packed and form a continuous sheet. It has almost no intercellular spaces. All epithelia is usually separated from underlying tissues by an extracellular fibrous basement membrane. The lining of the mouth, lung alveoli and kidney tubules are all made of epithelial tissue. The lining of the blood and lymphatic vessels are of a specialised form of epithelium called endothelium.

Location

Epithelium lines both the outside (skin) and the inside cavities and lumina of bodies. The outermost layer of human skin is composed of dead stratified squamous, keratinized epithelial cells. [15]

Tissues that line the inside of the mouth, the esophagus, the vagina, and part of the rectum are composed of nonkeratinized stratified squamous epithelium. Other surfaces that separate body cavities from the outside environment are lined by simple squamous, columnar, or pseudostratified epithelial cells. Other epithelial cells line the insides of the lungs, the gastrointestinal tract, the reproductive and urinary tracts, and make up the exocrine and endocrine glands. The outer surface of the cornea is covered with fast-growing, easily regenerated epithelial cells. A specialised form of epithelium, endothelium, forms the inner lining of blood vessels and the heart, and is known as vascular endothelium, and lining lymphatic vessels as lymphatic endothelium. Another type, mesothelium, forms the walls of the pericardium, pleurae, and peritoneum.[ citation needed ]

In arthropods, the integument, or external "skin", consists of a single layer of epithelial ectoderm from which arises the cuticle, [16] an outer covering of chitin, the rigidity of which varies as per its chemical composition.

Basement membrane

Epithelial tissue rests on a basement membrane, which acts as a scaffolding on which epithelium can grow and regenerate after injuries. [17] Epithelial tissue has a nerve supply, but no blood supply and must be nourished by substances diffusing from the blood vessels in the underlying tissue. The basement membrane acts as a selectively permeable membrane that determines which substances will be able to enter the epithelium. [3]

Cell junctions

Cell junctions are especially abundant in epithelial tissues. They consist of protein complexes and provide contact between neighbouring cells, between a cell and the extracellular matrix, or they build up the paracellular barrier of epithelia and control the paracellular transport. [18]

Cell junctions are the contact points between plasma membrane and tissue cells. There are mainly 5 different types of cell junctions: tight junctions, adherens junctions, desmosomes, hemidesmosomes, and gap junctions. Tight junctions are a pair of trans-membrane protein fused on outer plasma membrane. Adherens junctions are a plaque (protein layer on the inside plasma membrane) which attaches both cells' microfilaments. Desmosomes attach to the microfilaments of cytoskeleton made up of keratin protein. Hemidesmosomes resemble desmosomes on a section. They are made up of the integrin (a transmembrane protein) instead of cadherin. They attach the epithelial cell to the basement membrane. Gap junctions connect the cytoplasm of two cells and are made up of proteins called connexins (six of which come together to make a connexion).[ citation needed ]

Development

Epithelial tissues are derived from all of the embryological germ layers:[ citation needed ]

However, it is important to note that pathologists do not consider endothelium and mesothelium (both derived from mesoderm) to be true epithelium. This is because such tissues present very different pathology. For that reason, pathologists label cancers in endothelium and mesothelium sarcomas, whereas true epithelial cancers are called carcinomas. Additionally, the filaments that support these mesoderm-derived tissues are very distinct. Outside of the field of pathology, it is generally accepted that the epithelium arises from all three germ layers.[ citation needed ]

Functions

Forms of secretion in glandular tissue 405 Modes of Secretion by Glands updated.svg
Forms of secretion in glandular tissue
Different characteristics of glands of the body 406 Types of Glands.jpg
Different characteristics of glands of the body

Epithelial tissues have as their primary functions:

  1. to protect the tissues that lie beneath from radiation, desiccation, toxins, invasion by pathogens, and physical trauma
  2. the regulation and exchange of chemicals between the underlying tissues and a body cavity
  3. the secretion of hormones into the circulatory system, as well as the secretion of sweat, mucus, enzymes, and other products that are delivered by ducts [19]
  4. to provide sensation [20]
  5. Absorb water and digested food in the lining of digestive canal.

Glandular tissue

Glandular tissue is the type of epithelium that forms the glands from the infolding of epithelium and subsequent growth in the underlying connective tissue. There are two major classifications of glands: endocrine glands and exocrine glands:

Sensing the extracellular environment

"Some epithelial cells are ciliated, especially in respiratory epithelium, and they commonly exist as a sheet of polarised cells forming a tube or tubule with cilia projecting into the lumen." Primary cilia on epithelial cells provide chemosensation, thermoception, and mechanosensation of the extracellular environment by playing "a sensory role mediating specific signalling cues, including soluble factors in the external cell environment, a secretory role in which a soluble protein is released to have an effect downstream of the fluid flow, and mediation of fluid flow if the cilia are motile." [21]

Clinical significance

Epithelial cell infected with Chlamydia pneumoniae Chlamydia pneumoniae.jpg
Epithelial cell infected with Chlamydia pneumoniae

The slide shows at (1) an epithelial cell infected by Chlamydia pneumoniae; their inclusion bodies shown at (3); an uninfected cell shown at (2) and (4) showing the difference between an infected cell nucleus and an uninfected cell nucleus.

Epithelium grown in culture can be identified by examining its morphological characteristics. Epithelial cells tend to cluster together, and have a "characteristic tight pavement-like appearance". But this is not always the case, such as when the cells are derived from a tumor. In these cases, it is often necessary to use certain biochemical markers to make a positive identification. The intermediate filament proteins in the cytokeratin group are almost exclusively found in epithelial cells, so they are often used for this purpose. [22]

Cancers originating from the epithelium are classified as carcinomas. In contrast, sarcomas develop in connective tissue. [23]

When epithelial cells or tissues are damaged from cystic fibrosis, sweat glands are also damaged, causing a frosty coating of the skin. [ citation needed ]

Etymology and pronunciation

The word epithelium uses the Greek roots ἐπί (epi), "on" or "upon", and θηλή (thēlē), "nipple". Epithelium is so called because the name was originally used to describe the translucent covering of small "nipples" of tissue on the lip. [24] The word has both mass and count senses; the plural form is epithelia.

Additional images

See also

Related Research Articles

Urethra tube that connects the urinary bladder to the external urethral orifice

In anatomy, the urethra is a tube that connects the urinary bladder to the urinary meatus for the removal of urine from the body of both females and males. In human females and other primates, the urethra connects to the urinary meatus above the vagina, whereas in marsupials, the female's urethra empties into the urogenital sinus.

Tissue (biology) Cellular organization level

In biology, tissue is a cellular organisational level between cells and a complete organ. A tissue is an ensemble of similar cells and their extracellular matrix from the same origin that together carry out a specific function. Organs are then formed by the functional grouping together of multiple tissues.

Bronchiole passageways by which air passes through the nose or mouth to the alveoli of the lungs

The bronchioles or bronchioli are the smaller branches of the bronchial airways in the respiratory tract. They include the terminal bronchioles, and finally the respiratory bronchioles that mark the start of the respiratory zone delivering air to the gas exchanging units of the alveoli. The bronchioles no longer contain the cartilage, that is found in the bronchi, or glands in their submucosa.

Mesothelium membrane composed of simple squamous epithelium that forms the lining of several body cavities: the pleura (thoracic cavity), peritoneum (abdominal cavity including the mesentery), mediastinum and pericardium (heart sac)

The mesothelium is a membrane composed of simple squamous epithelium that forms the lining of several body cavities: the pleura, peritoneum, mediastinum and pericardium. Mesothelial tissue also surrounds the male internal reproductive organs and covers the internal reproductive organs of women. Mesothelium that covers the internal organs is called visceral mesothelium, while the layer that covers the body walls is called the parietal mesothelium. Mesothelium is the epithelial component of serosa.

Nasal cavity

The nasal cavity is a large, air-filled space above and behind the nose in the middle of the face. The nasal septum divides the cavity into two cavities, also known as fossae. Each cavity is the continuation of one of the two nostrils. The nasal cavity is the uppermost part of the respiratory system and provides the nasal passage for inhaled air from the nostrils to the nasopharynx and rest of the respiratory tract.

Transitional epithelium A type of tissue.

Transitional epithelium is a type of stratified epithelium. This tissue consists of multiple layers of epithelial cells which can contract and expand in order to adapt to the degree of distension needed. Transitional epithelium lines the organs of the urinary system and is known here as urothelium. The bladder for example has a need for great distension.

The oral mucosa is the mucous membrane lining the inside of the mouth. It comprises stratified squamous epithelium, termed "oral epithelium", and an underlying connective tissue termed lamina propria. The oral cavity has sometimes been described as a mirror that reflects the health of the individual. Changes indicative of disease are seen as alterations in the oral mucosa lining the mouth, which can reveal systemic conditions, such as diabetes or vitamin deficiency, or the local effects of chronic tobacco or alcohol use. The oral mucosa tends to heal faster and with less scar formation compared to the skin. The underlying mechanism remains unknown, but research suggests that extracellular vesicles might be involved.

Simple columnar epithelium tissue type

A simple columnar epithelium is a columnar epithelium that is uni-layered. In humans, a simple columnar epithelium lines most organs of the digestive tract including the stomach, small intestine, and large intestine. Simple columnar epithelia line the uterus.

Respiratory epithelium

Respiratory epithelium, or airway epithelium, is a type of ciliated columnar epithelium found lining most of the respiratory tract as respiratory mucosa, where it serves to moisten and protect the airways. It is not present in the vocal cords of the larynx, or the oropharynx and laryngopharynx, where instead the epithelium is stratified squamous. It also functions as a barrier to potential pathogens and foreign particles, preventing infection and tissue injury by the secretion of mucus and the action of mucociliary clearance.

The mucous membrane of the soft palate is thin, and covered with stratified squamous epithelium on both surfaces, except near the pharyngeal ostium of the auditory tube, where it is columnar and ciliated.

Stratified columnar epithelium tissue type

Stratified columnar epithelium is a rare type of epithelial tissue composed of column shaped cells arranged in multiple layers.

Pseudostratified columnar epithelium tissue type

A pseudostratified epithelium is a type of epithelium that, though comprising only a single layer of cells, has its cell nuclei positioned in a manner suggestive of stratified epithelia. As it rarely occurs as squamous or cuboidal epithelia, it is usually considered synonymous with the term pseudostratified columnar epithelium.

Stratified squamous epithelium tissue type

A stratified squamous epithelium consists of squamous (flattened) epithelial cells arranged in layers upon a basal membrane. Only one layer is in contact with the basement membrane; the other layers adhere to one another to maintain structural integrity. Although this epithelium is referred to as squamous, many cells within the layers may not be flattened; this is due to the convention of naming epithelia according to the cell type at the surface. In the deeper layers, the cells may be columnar or cuboidal. There are no intercellular spaces. This type of epithelium is well suited to areas in the body subject to constant abrasion, as the thickest layers can be sequentially sloughed off and replaced before the basement membrane is exposed. It forms the outermost layer of the skin and the inner lining of the mouth, esophagus and vagina.

Duct (anatomy) circumscribed channel leading from an exocrine gland or organ

In anatomy and physiology, a duct is a circumscribed channel leading from an exocrine gland or organ.

Stratified cuboidal epithelium tissue type

Stratified cuboidal epithelium is a type of epithelial tissue composed of multiple layers of cube-shaped cells.

Simple cuboidal epithelium

Simple cuboidal epithelium is a type of epithelium that consists of a single layer of cuboidal (cube-like) cells. These cuboidal cells have large, spherical and central nuclei.

Uterine gland

Uterine glands or endometrial glands are tubular glands, lined by ciliated columnar epithelium, found in the functional layer of the endometrium that lines the uterus. Their appearance varies during the menstrual cycle. During the proliferative phase, uterine glands appear long due to estrogen secretion by the ovaries. During the secretory phase, the uterine glands become very coiled with wide lumens and produce a glycogen-rich secretion. This change corresponds with an increase in blood flow to spiral arteries due to increased progesterone secretion from the corpus luteum. During the pre-menstrual phase, progesterone secretion decreases as the corpus luteum degenerates, which results in decreased blood flow to the spiral arteries. The functional layer of the uterus containing the glands becomes necrotic, and eventually sloughs off during the menstrual phase of the cycle.

Gastric mucosa

The gastric mucosa is the mucous membrane layer of the stomach, which contains the glands and the gastric pits. In humans, it is about 1 mm thick, and its surface is smooth, soft, and velvety. It consists of simple columnar epithelium, lamina propria, and the muscularis mucosae.

The nasal mucosa lines the nasal cavity. It is part of the respiratory mucosa, the mucous membrane lining the respiratory tract. The nasal mucosa is intimately adherent to the periosteum or perichondrium of the nasal conchae. It is continuous with the skin through the nostrils, and with the mucous membrane of the nasal part of the pharynx through the choanae. From the nasal cavity its continuity with the conjunctiva may be traced, through the nasolacrimal and lacrimal ducts; and with the frontal, ethmoidal, sphenoidal, and maxillary sinuses, through the several openings in the nasal meatuses. The mucous membrane is thickest, and most vascular, over the nasal conchae. It is also thick over the nasal septum where increased numbers of goblet cells produce a greater amount of nasal mucus. It is very thin in the meatuses on the floor of the nasal cavities, and in the various sinuses. It is one of the most commonly infected tissues in adults and children. Inflammation of this tissue may cause significant impairment of daily activities, with symptoms such as stuffy nose, headache, mouth breathing, etc.

Anatomical terms of microanatomy

Anatomical terminology is used to describe microanatomical structures. This helps describe precisely the structure, layout and position of an object, and minimises ambiguity. An internationally accepted lexicon is Terminologia Histologica.

References

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Bibliography

Further reading