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Epithelial Tissues

Structure| Sqaumous Epithelium| Cubiodal Epithelium| Columnar Epithelium| Stratified Epithelium| Functions of


Epithelial tissue covers the whole surface of the body. It is made up of cells closely packed and
ranged in one or more layers. This tissue is specialised to form the covering or lining of all
internal and external body surfaces. Epithelial tissue that occurs on surfaces on the interior of
the body is known as endothelium. Epithelial cells are packed tightly together, with almost no
intercellular spaces and only a small amount of intercellular substance. Epithelial tissue,
regardless of the type, is usually separated from the underlying tissue by a thin sheet of
connective tissue; basement membrane. The basement membrane provides structural support
for the epithelium and also binds it to neighbouring structures.

Types of Epithelial Tissue

Epithelial tissue can be divided into two groups depending on the number of layers of which it is
composes. Epithelial tissue which is only one cell thick is known as simple epithelium. If it is
two or more cells thick such as the skin, it is known as stratified epithelium.

Simple epithelium

Simple epithelium can be subdivided according to the shape and function of its cells.

• Squamous (pavement) epithelium.

Squamous cells have the appearance of thin, flat plates. The shape of the nucleus usually
corresponds to the cell form and help to identify the type of epithelium. Squamous cells,
for example, tend to have horizontall flattened, elliptical nuclei because of the thin
flattened form of the cell. They form the lining of cavities such as the mouth, blood
vessels, heart and lungs and make up the outer layers of the skin.

Simple sqaumous epithelium

• Simple Cuboidal Epithelium.

As their name implies, cuboidal cells are roughly square or cuboidal in shape. Each cell
has a spherical nucleus in the centre. Cuboidal epithelium is found in glands and in the
lining of the kidney tubules as well as in the ducts of the glands. They also constitute
the germinal epithelium which produces the egg cells in the female ovary and the
sperm cells in the male testes.

Simple cuboidal epithelium

• Simple Columnar Epithelium

Columnar epithelial cells occur in one or more layers. The cells are elongated and
column-shaped. The nuclei are elongated and are usually located near the base of the
cells. Columnar epithelium forms the lining of the stomach and intestines. Some
columnar cells are specialised for sensory reception such as in the nose, ears and the
taste buds of the tongue. Goblet cells (unicellular glands) are found between the
columnar epithelial cells of the duodenum. They secrete mucus or slime, a lubricating
substance which keeps the surface smooth.

Simple columnar epithelium

• Ciliated Columnar Epithelium

These are simple columnar epithelial cells, but in addition, they posses fine hair-like
outgrowths, cilia on their free surfaces. These cilia are capable of rapid, rhythmic,
wavelike beatings in a certain direction. This movement of the cilia in a certain direction
causes the mucus, which is secreted by the goblet cells, to move (flow or stream) in that
direction. Ciliated epithelium is usually found in the air passages like the nose. It is also
found in the uterus and Fallopian tubes of females. The movement of the cilia propel
the ovum to the uterus.

Ciliated columnar epithelium

• Glandular Epithelium

Columnar epithelium with goblet cells is called glandular epithelium. Some parts of
the glandular epithelium consist of such a large number of goblet cells that there are
only a few normal epithelial cells left. Columnar and cuboidal epithelial cells often
become specialised as gland cells which are capable of synthesising and secreting
certain substances such as enzymes, hormones, milk, mucus, sweat, wax and saliva.
Unicellular glands consist of single, isolated glandular cells such as the goblet cells.
Sometimes a portion of the epithelial tissue becomes invaginated and a multicellular
gland is formed. Multicellular glands are composed of clusters of cells. Most glands are
multicellular including the the salivary glands.

Glandular epithelium

• Stratified Epithelium.

Where body linings have to withstand wear and tear, the epithelia are composed of
several layers of cells and are then called compound or stratified epithelium. The top
cells are flat and scaly and it may or may not be keratinised (i.e. containing a tough,
resistant protein called keratin). The mammalian skin is an example of dry, keratinised,
stratified epithelium. The lining of the mouth cavity is an example of an
unkeratinisied, stratified epithelium.
Stratified epithelium

Functions of Epithelial Tissue

• Protection

Epithelial cells from the skin protect underlying tissue from mechanical injury, harmful
chemicals, invading bacteria and from excessive loss of water.

• Sensation

Sensory stimuli penetrate specialised epithelial cells. Specialised epithelial tissue

containing sensory nerve endings is found in the skin, eyes, ears, nose and on the tongue.

• Secretion

In glands, epithelial tissue is specialised to secrete specific chemical substances such as

enzymes, hormones and lubricating fluids.

• Absorption

Certain epithelial cells lining the small intestine absorb nutrients from the digestion of

• Excretion

Epithelial tissues in the kidney excrete waste products from the body and reabsorb
needed materials from the urine. Sweat is also excreted from the body by epithelial cells
in the sweat glands.

• Diffusion
Simple epithelium promotes the diffusion of gases, liquids and nutrients. Because they
form such a thin lining, they are ideal for the diffusion of gases (eg. walls of capillaries
and lungs).

• Cleaning

Ciliated epithelium assists in removing dust particles and foreign bodies which have
entered the air passages.

• Reduces Friction

The smooth, tightly-interlocking, epithelial cells that line the entire circulatory system
reduce friction between the blood and the walls of the blood vessels.

Connective tissue


Connective tissues function primarily to support the body and to bind or connect together all
types of tissue. This tissue also provide a mechanical framework (the skeleton) which plays an
important role in locomotion. Unlike epithelial tissue, connective tissue is characterised by the
large amounts of intercellular substance (also called ground substance or the matrix) that it

Connective tissue are relatively few cells which are widely seperated from each other. These
living cells are responsible for secreting the large amounts of intercellular ground substance
(matrix). The matrix is a non-living material which may be liquid (eg. blood), semi-solid (eg.
connective tissue) or solid (eg. bone). Embedded in the matrix are a variety of connecting and
supporting fibres, eg. collagen fibres and elastic fibres.

Classification of the basic connective tissue depends on the predominant fibre type present in
each. Connective tissue can be divided into four main types.

| Hyaline cartilage| White fibrocartilage| Elastic cartilage|

Cartilage is usually found in close association with bone in the body. It is a type of connective
tissue which is tough, semi-transparent, elastic and flexible. The matrix or ground substance
of cartilage consists mainly of glyco-protein material, chondroitin. The cartilage cells
(chondrocytes) lie scattered in the matrix. Cartilage is covered by a dense fibrous membrane,
the perichondrium. No nerves or blood vessels occur in cartilage.

In some vertebrates, such as sharks, the entire skeleton is made up of cartilage. In mammal
embryos, the skeleton first forms as cartilage tissue. Cartilage acts as a model and is gradually
replaced by bone as the embryo grows. Such cartilage is known as temporary cartilage. The
process by which bone tissue follows the cartilage model and slowly replaces it is known as
ossification. Permanent cartilage (cartilage which does not become ossified) is found in the tip
of the nose, in the external ear and in the walls of the trachea (windpipe) and the larynx

Hyaline cartilage.

Hyaline cartilage is semi-transparent and appears bluish-white in colour. It is extremely

strong, but very flexible and elastic. Hyaline cartilage consists of living cells, chondrocytes,
which are situated far apart in fluid-filled spaces, the lacunae. There is an extensive amount of
rubbery matrix between the cells and the matrix contains a number of collagenous fibres.
Hyaline cartilage occurs in trachea, the larynx, the tip of the nose, in the connection between
the ribs and the breastbone and also the ends of bone where they form joints. Temporary
cartilage in mammalian embryos also consists of hyaline cartilage.


• Reduces friction at joints.

By virtue of the smooth surface of hyaline cartilage, it provides a sliding area which
reduces friction, thus facilitating bone movement.

• Movement

Hyaline cartilage joins bones firmly together in such a way that a certain amount of
movement is still possible between them.

• Support

The c-shaped cartilagenous rings in the windpipes (trachea and bronchi) assist in keeping
those tubes open.

• Growth

Hyaline cartilage is responsible for the longitudinal growth of bone in the neck regions of
the long bones.

White Fibrocartilage.

White fibrocartilage is an extremely tough tissue. The orientation of the bundles depends upon
the stresses acting on the cartilage. The collagenous bundles take up a direction parallel to the
cartilage. Fibrocartilage is found as discs between the vertebrae between the pubic bones in
front of the pelvic girdle and around the edges of the articular cavities such as the glenoid
cavity in the shoulder joint.

• Shock absorbers.

The cartilage between the adjacent vertebrae absorbs the shocks that will otherwise
damage and jar the bones while we run or walk.

• Provides sturdiness without impeding movement.

The white fibrocartilage forms a firm joint between bones but still allows for a
reasonable degree of movement.

• Deepens sockets.

In articular cavities (such as the ball-and-socket joints in the hip and shoulder regions)
white fibrocartilage deepens the sockets to make dislocation less possible.

Elastic cartilage.

Basically elastic cartilage is similar to hyaline cartilage, but in addition to the collagenous
fibres, the matrix of the elastic also contains an abundant network of branched yellow elastic
fibres. They run through the matrix in all directions. This type of cartilage is found in the lobe of
the ear, the epiglottis and in parts of the larynx.


• Maintain shape.

In the ear, for example, elastic cartilage helps to maintain the shape and flexibility of the

• Support

Elastic cartilage also strengthens and supports these structures.


Bone tissue occurs in the different bones of the skeleton. Bone is a hard and rigid tissue. Like
cartilage, bone consists of living cells with large amounts of ground substance or matrix. It is
impregnated with organic salts such as calcium carbonate (7%) and calcium phosphate
(85%). Small amounts of sodium and magnesium is also present. In addition to this, the matrix
contains numerous collagenous fibres and a large amount of water. Collagen fibres together
with the bone cells constitute the organic (living) matter in bone tissue. There are different
groups of bone in the skeleton, inter alia long bones such as the humerus and femur.

Structure of a Bone
A long bone such as the femur, consists of a centre piece, the shaft (diaphysis) and a thickened
head (epiphysis) at each end. The heads articulate with other bones in the joints and are covered
with a thin layer of hyaline cartilage. The remainder of the bone is covered with a tough, strong
membrane, the periosteum which is richly supplied with blood vessels. There is a small artery
which penetrates the shaft near the centre to supply the bone tissue with blood. Beneath the
periosteum is a layer of compact bone which is thicker in the shaft than in the two heads. The
shaft encloses a hollow, the marrow cavity, which is lined with a thin soft membrane known as
the endosteum. The marrow cavity contains a soft tissue richly supplied with fat cells and blood
corpuscles, the yellow marrow. The epiphysis of a long bone consist of spongy (or cancellous)
bone covered with a thin layer of compact bone. This is made up of bony bars (or trabeculae)
arranged in such a way that they are able to resist any force which a applied upon the bone.
Between the bars are many tiny cavities filled with a red marrow which contains numerous red
blood corpuscles in different stages of development.

Microscopic Structure of Compact Bone

Under the microscope dense, compact bone shows a definite and a characteristic pattern of
arrangement. The ground substance of bone is arranged in concentrated layers (lamellae)
round the small canals which run parallel to the long axis (shaft) of the bone. These canals,
called Haversian canals, are interconnected with one another via Volkmann's canals and
contain a blood vessel, a nerve and a lymph vessel. Each Haversian canal is surrounded by
concentric layers of bone matrix (called lamallae) and concentric rings of bone forming cells
(osteoblasts). Bone cells remain alive and once they have completely surrounded by the hard
bone matrix, they are called osteocytes. The osteocytes are embedded in fluid-filled cavities
within the concentric lamellae. These cavities are known as lacunae and occur at regular
intervals in these concentric layers of bone tissue. The lacunae are connected to one another and
to the Haversian canals by a system of interconnecting canals known as canaliculi. Each
Haversian canal, its concentric lamellae, lacunae with osteocytes and canaliculi forms a long
cylinder and is called a Haversian system. Separate Haversian systems are joined to each other
by means of interstitial lamellae.

Growth of Bone Tissue

In a child a long bone has a layer of cartilage between the head (epiphysis) and the shaft
(diaphysis). The cartilage grows actively which causes an increase in the length of the bone.
The layer does not thicken since the edges (on both sides) are constantly replaced by bone
(become ossified). The bone grows in the length until the child reaches its adult size. The
cartilage then also ossifies and disappears. At the same time the bone increases in thickness as
a result of the formation of bone tissue immediately beneath the periosteum. The innermost
layer, nearest to the marrow cavity, are constantly absorbed, which enlarges the size of the
marrow cavity.

Functions of Bone Tissue

• Support.
The skeleton, which consists mainly of bone tissue, forms a supportive framework,
giving shape and rigidity to the body.

• Locomotion.

The bone tissue forms a system of levers to which the voluntary muscles are attached.

• Protection.

It serves to protect the soft and delicate organs of the body such as the skull protects the

• Manufacturing of Blood Cells.

Red blood cells are manufactured in the red bone marrow, which is situated in the spongy
tissue at the ends of long bones.

• Homeostasis.

Bone plays a part in homeostasis because it helps to maintain a constant level of calcium
in the blood.
Structure of long bone with enlargement of a section of compact bone.


Although blood is a fluid it must be seen as a connective tissue which consists of a ground
substance, blood plasma, and cell elements, blood corpuscles. The only difference with the
other connective tissues is that it does not contain fibre elements .

Blood is a sticky fluid with a slightly salty taste. It has a bright red or scarlet colour when it
flows from the arteries but a dark red or purple colour when it flows from the veins. It is
slightly alkaline (pH 7.4).
Blood Plasma.

Plasma is a yellowish, straw-coloured liquid which consists mainly of water (>90%). The
other 10% of the blood plasma consists of dissolved substances of which the following are the
most important: Organic constituents (2%) which include nutrients such as glucose, fats, amino
acids and vitamins. Inorganic salts and ions which include ions such as bicarbonates,
phosphates, sulphates, chlorides, calcium potassium, sodium and magnesium. Secretions such as
enzymes and hormones. Dissolved gases such as oxygen and carbon (IV) oxide, i.e. gases
involved with respiration. Antibodies which are protective protein compounds. Plasma proteins
(7%), the most important of which are fibrinogen, albumen and globulin.


• Plasma transport the various blood types throughout the body.

• It transports food and nutrients from the digestive system to the various tissues in the
• It transports waste products from the tissues to the excretory organs.
• Fibrinogen plays an important role in the clotting of blood.
• Blood plasma plays an important role in regulating the body temperature.
• Hormones are transported by the plasma to their target organs where they bring about a
specific function.
• Albumen and globulin regulate the water content of cells and extracellular body fluids .
• Globulin also gives rise to antibodies that provide immunity against various diseases.
• The proper balance of ions allows for the normal functioning of nerves, muscles, etc.

Erythrocytes (Red Blood Corpuscles).

In humans there are about 5 million erythrocytes per cubic millimetre of blood. Erythrocytes are
small, round, bi-concave discs which float in the blood plasma. They are actually yellowish in
colour but when present in large numbers they are red. Each adult red blood cell represents a
cell without a nucleus, which is surrounded by a thin, elastic membrane. They are soft,
flexible and elastic and therefore move easily through the narrow blood capillaries.
Approximately 90% of the content of each erythrocyte is haemoglobin which supplies the
characteristic colour of the red corpuscles. Red blood cells are formed in the red marrow of
long and flat bones, especially in the spongy regions in the heads of the long bones. The life
span of an erythrocyte is approximately 4 months.


• The erythrocytes transport oxygen in the blood from the lungs to all the cells and tissues
of the body.
• Red blood corpuscles also assist with the transport of carbon (IV) oxide from the tissues
to the lungs.
• They play an important role in regulating the acid-base balance of the blood, thus
preventing large changes in pH.
• Erythrocytes also assist when a blood clot is formed.
Leucocytes (White Blood Cells).

Leucocytes are far less numerous than red blood corpuscles. Leucocytes are larger than red
blood corpuscles and have a definite nucleus. They are irregular in shape, slightly translucent
and nearly colourless.They are able to change their shape because of the fact that they move by
means of pseudopodia (false feet). Many are phagocytic, i.e. they are able to engulf micro-
organisms and foreign intruders into their cytoplasm by flowing around them. There are five
types of leucocytes which can be divided into two groups, namely granular white blood cells
where the cytoplasm is granular, and non-granular white cells where the cytoplasm does not
contain granules. The two principal types of white blood cells are neutrophils and
lymphocytes. Neutrophils are the most abundant and are produced in the red bone marrow.
Their nuclei are divided to form 3 to 5 lobes, connected by thin threads of nuclear material.
They all have conspicuous granules in their cytoplasm. Eosinophils and basophils also have
granules in their cytoplasm and irregular-shaped nuclei. Lymphocytes are produced in the
spleen, tonsils and lymph nodes and are the smallest of the white blood cells. There are no
granules in the cytoplasm but a large spherical nucleus is present.


• Neutrophils are active in phagocytosis and defend us against harmful viruses, bacteria
and other foreign intruders.
• Neutrophils also play a role in the healing of wounds and repairing worn out and
damaged tissues.
• Neutrophils prevent infections from spreading to other tissues of the body.
• Lymphocytes are involved in the synthesis and distribution of antibodies in the blood.
The B-cells are responsible for humoral or antibody immunity. The T-cells are
responsible for cellular immunity.

Blood Platelets.

These are small, colourless, plate-like discs. No nucleus is visible. They are not true cells but
are cytoplasmic fragments of large cells found in red bone marrow. When tissue is damaged
and the platelets leave the blood vessels, they release a substance which transforms soluble
fibrinogen in the plasma to a network of fibrin threads.


• Blood platelets play an important role in initiating the process of blood-clotting and in
the plugging up and sealing of damaged blood vessels and form tissues.
Composition of Blood

Types of Cartilage.