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Digestive system

Digestive tract and Digestive
Obtain molecules necessary
for the body from ingested
A protective barrier for the

Dr. Wang yanwu
Part One

Oral Cavity and Related
Oral cavity
 The oral cavity extend from lips to pharynx.
 The surface of the oral cavity is lined by nonkeratinized stratified
squamous epi., except the gum and hard palate (keratinized).
 The wall of the oral cavity is made up of CT, muscles and bone.

 The oral cavity can ingest,
fragment and moisten the food.
 The oral cavity is involved in
speech, facial expression, sensory
reception and breathing.
 The oral cavity contains the
lips, the teeth, the tongue and
salivary glands.
1. Lip
 The lips is muscular structure, skeletal muscle.
 Internal surface is lined by mucous membrane and External
surface is lined by hairy skin.
 Transition zone refer to vermilion for its pink color.
2. Tooth
Crown - The visible part of a
Root - The anchor of a tooth
that extends into the jawbone.
The number of roots ranges
from 1-3.
Gum - The soft tissue that
surrounds the neck of the tooth.
Pulp - The soft center of the
tooth. The pulp contains blood
vessels and nerves; it nourishes
the dentin.
Dentin – Tooth is made up of dentin. The hard but porous tissue
surrounded the pulp. Dentin is harder than bone.
2. Tooth

Enamel - The tough, shiny, Dentin

white outer surface of the tooth
covered on the surface of the
crown. Cementum

Cementum - A layer of tough,
yellowish, bone-like tissue that ligament

covers the surface of dentin in
the root. It helps holding the
tooth in the socket.

Periodontal ligament / Periodontium :
The fleshy tissue between tooth and the tooth socket; it holds the tooth
in place. The fibers of the periodontal ligament are embedded within the
3. Tongue
 A mass of skeletal muscle covered by mucosa, whose structure
varies according to the region.
 The dorsal surface of tongue is irregular, which covered by
keratinized stratified squamous epithelium.
 The ventral surface is smooth and lined by non-keratinized just
like oral cavity. surface


 V-shaped boundary, which boundary

divided the dorsal surface into Posterior

anterior 2/3 and posterior 1/3.
 The posterior 1/3 show small
bulges which composed of two
types of lymphatic tissue, small
collections of lymphoid nodules and
lingual tonsils.
 The anterior 2/3 of dorsal surface
is covered by numerous projections
or papillae(?).
Papillae CV

 Filiform papillae
 Fungiform papillae
 Circumvallate papillae
 Foliate papillae

a). Filiform papillae: The most numerous papillae. Present over
entire surface. It is small and conical in shape. The epithelium at the tips
of papillae is keratinized without taste bud. (White)
b). Fungiform papillae: Irregularly interspersed among filiform
papillae. These papillae resemble mushrooms, which contains a narrow
stalk and a dilated upper part. The epithelium is not keratinized with
taste buds. (RED)
c). Circumvallate papillae: The largest papillae.
 7-12 CV arranged in a row just anterior to V-shaped boundary.
 CV is encircled by a deep cleft.
 The epthelium contains numerous of taste buds.
 Underlying of the mucosa, there are serous glands, which
open into the base of the clefts.
d). Foliate papillae are poorly developed in human, which lies on
dorsalateral surface of tongue. The epithelium contains many taste
buds(?). CV



Taste bud

There are 10,000 TB in your mouth, which present in the epi. of fungiform
papillae, circumvallate papillae, foliate papillae, soft palate, etc.

 Each taste bud is a onion-shaped structure made up of modified
epithelial cells. Each bud has a small cavity that opens to the
surface through a taste pore.
 The cells in TB are of 3 basic
types. Receptor cells or taste cells,
supporting cells, which have
microvilli on the tip of the cells and
basal cells.
 The same taste bud can respond to 4
types of taste (sweet, sour, salty and
bitter). The sweet and salty is less
sensitive, but bitter is most sensitive.
 The taste is a complicated sensation
depending on the responses from taste
buds all over the tongue.
Brief summary

 The general structure: the oral cavity, the lips,
the teeth and the tongue.
 The papillae in the tongue
 The taste bud: structures and functions.
Part two

Esophagus, Stomach
and Intestine

Dr. Wang yanwu
General structure
1. Components of digestive tract 2.


Except oral cavity and pharynx, all organs share a similar histological
plan: a hollow tube composed of a lumen surrounded by a wall.
The wall includes: mucosa, submucosa, muscularis and adventitia.
3. General structure in details M

1) Mucosa (mucous membrane)
Epithelium :
S: stratified squamous epi. (E, R, A)
simple columnar epi. (S, SI, LI)
F: A selectively permeable barrier. A
• Facilitate the transport and digestion of food.
• Promote the absorption of products of digestion.
• Produce the hormone to affect the activity of DS.
• Secret mucus for lubrication and protection.
Lamina propria: LCT rich in BV, LV and nerves,
Muscularis mucosa : Except esophagus, 2 sublayers (Inner circular and
outer longitudinal of smooth muscle). Function: Promote the
movements of the mucosa and increase its contact with the food.
Separate mucosa from submucosa.
2) Submucosa: Dense CT with abundant
lymphoid nodules. Submucosa nerve plexus.
Protect the organism from bacterial invasion
3) Muscularis : Smooth muscle cells and very
little skeletal muscle cells.
inner circular and outer longitudinal sublayer
Myenteric nerve plexus
Function: The contraction of muscularis
propel and mix the food in digestive tract. M

4) Adventitia
Serosa: LCT + mesothelium (mesentery)
Fibrosa: LCT
Folds: mucosa and part of submucosa
Esophagus Epi

1) Mucosa:
epithelium: stratified squamous epi.
lamina propria: loose CT
muscularis mucosa: SM

only a layer of longitudinal arranged SM
2) Submucosa: CT
esophageal gland: mucous gland




3) Muscularis:
inner circular and outer longitudinal
 Proximal end: only skeletal M
 Middle portion: mixture of
skeletal and smooth M
 Distal end: only smooth M
4) Adventitia: fibrosa

 Transport food from the mouth
to the stomach.
 Prevent the retrograde flow of
gastric contents.
 store food temporarily
 digest protein primarily
 absorb part of water and Ion

The stomach includes 4 portions:
fundus, cardia, body, pylorus
Folds or rugae.
The wall is composed of 4 layers:
Mucosa, submucosa, muscularis and
Mucosa and muscularis have some special
features .
I. Mucosa of stomach
Mucosa is composed of 3 sublayers.
① Epithelium: simple columnar epi
Surface mucous cell:
LM: Tall columnar, ovoid and basally-
located nucleus. The apical parts are filled
with mucin granules. Cells look empty
with HE staining.
EM: Tight junction
Secreting alkaline mucus, which form
Mucous barrier to protect mucosa against
the damage of the gastric acids and
enzymes in the lumen.
② lamina propria:
 The epithelium dips into the lamina
propria to form gastric pits.
 Deep to gastric pits, the lamina
propria is packed with numerous
gastric glands and scanty CT.
 Here’re 3 types of gastric gland:
Main gastric gland, cardiac gland and
pyloric gland.
Gastric pit
Main gastric glands


Most of the stomach (present in
the body and fundus) except pylorus
and cardia.

 Simple or branched tubular glands.

 The glands open into gastric pits. Each pit can receive the
opening of several glands.

 The epithelium of the glands includes chief cells, parietal
cells, neck mucous cells, undifferentiated cells and endocrine
1. Chief cell, peptic cell or zymogen cell
Distribution: numerous in the basal part of the glands.
LM: Low columnar, A round and basally-located Nucleus.
Basal cytoplasm is basophilic and apical is light-stained
EM: RER, Golgi complex and apical granules (pepsinogen).
Functions: secrete pepsinogen (activated by gastric acids to
form pepsin). Pepsin can break down proteins into peptides and
solid food become liquefied.

Chief cells
2. Parietal cell or oxyntic cell
Distribution: more numerous in the upper half of the gland.
LM: large, pyramidal with round and centrally-located nucleus.
The cytoplasm is strongly acidophilic.
EM: Intracellular canaliculus (IC), which bear microvilli in the
wall. Tubulovesicles (TV) and Abundant Mitochondria (acidophilic).
Functions: secrete hydrochloric acid and produce intrinsic factor.

Active cell

Parietal cell

Resting cell
Function of Hydrochloric acids

Pepsinogen (chief cells)

hydrochloric acids Proteins

Function of intrinsic factor

Intrinsic factor
Complex Formation of erythrocytes

Vitamin B12
3. Mucous neck cell
Distribution: neck part of the gland.
Structures: Columnar cells, A flattened and basally-located
The cytoplasm is pale-stained in HE stain.
Functions: mucus secretion.
4. undifferentiated cell : can multiply to replace other cells and
play an important role in healing.
5. Endocrine cell:
Cardiac glands and pyloric glands


The mucosa of cardia and pylorus.


Mucous secreting glands.


The majority of cells is mucous
cells. Occasionally, parietal cells, chief
cells and endocrine cells is present.
③ muscularis mucosa:
 Well developed in stomach
 2 sublayers of SM: inner circular and outer longitudinal

II Muscularis
Well developed in stomach.

Three sublayers: oblique, circular and longitudinal (from inside out).
Small intestines

Small intestine is a tube, 5 meters long. It is composed of 3 parts:

 Duodenum: 25 cm long
 Jejunum: 2 meters long
 Ileum: 3 meters long

 The small intestine is the site of terminal food digestion, nutrient
absorption and endocrine secretion.
 The processes of the digestion are completed in the small intestine.
 The nutrients are absorbed by the epithelial cells.
The wall of the small intestine includes 4 layers:
 Serosa
correspond exactly to the description
 Muscularis
 Submucosa: be also typical, except duodenum (Brunner)
 Mucosa exhibit several special features, will be described


Lamina propria



The surface area is extensive to allow adequate absorption of food.
This is achieved by virtue of the following:

The length →1.folds →2. villi →3. crypts → Microvilli
1.Circular folds: also called valves of Kerkring.
Structure : Mucosa and part of submucosa project into the
lumen, which is so large that be readily seen with naked eye.
Distribution: Be absent first 1-2 inch of duodenum and
Be prominent in the rest of duodenum and the whole of the jejunum.
Become fewer and less in the ileum.
Function: increase the surface area and slow down the passage
of the contents to facilitate absorption.
2. Villi:
Structure: finger like projections, consisting of a core of
connective tissue covered by a surface epithelium (described below).
The CT core contains 3 important structures:
 Numerous fenestrated cap. forming a plexus, which allow rapid
absorption of nutrients into the blood.
 A central lymphatic cap. called a lacteal. Sometime be double.
Distal ends blindly and proximal ends in a plexus of lymphatic V.
 Some smooth muscle cells derived from muscularis mucosa.
A electron microphotograph under SEM
Finger like villi.

Distribution: most numerous in the duodenum, decrease along SI.
Function : villi can increase the surface areas 7 times.
3. Crypts:
 The invagination of epithelium into lamina propria.
 Really simple tubular glands.
 They are lined by epithelium and the epithelium is supported
on the outside by a basal membrane.


The epithelium of Mucosa
The epithelium of mucosa of small intestine is simple columnar epi.
Epi. of villi contains predominant columnar cells, specialized for
absorption and mucous secreting goblet cells.

Epi. of Crypts are also lined by undifferentiated cells and Paneth
cells. Endocrine cells are present (described below)
1. Absorptive columnar cells
Function: absorption of amino acids, carbohydrates, lipids.
Structure: general characteristics of simple columnar epi.
LM: An oval nucleus located in lower part. Free surface have striations.
EM: Striated border is produced by microvilli arranged in regular manner.
Usual organelles, such as lysosomes, smooth ER, and mitochondria.
& Free surface of cells: microvilli.
Each microvillus is composed of a wall of cell membrane and center
cytoplasm with filaments. The filaments are continuous with terminal
The surface of microvilli is covered by fine fibrils and glycocalyx.
& Lateral sides: junctional complexes and interdigitating cell membrane
2. Goblet cells
What is a goblet?
A drinking glass, broad above and narrow stem attach to a base.
LM: It is unstained by HE staining and bright with PAS reactions.

The nucleus is flattened or triangular and located near the
base of cells.
EM: An expanded upper part with mucin granules.
well developed Golgi complex and abundant RER.
Function: mucous secreting cells.
3. Paneth cell
Distribution: Deep part of crypts.
Structure :
LM: Pyramidal and Present in groups. And in the apical of the
cell contains acidophilic granules.
EM: considerable RER, usual organelles, and large granules.
Function: not well known. They are known to relate with immune
function and produce lysozyme.
4. Undifferentiated cells
LM: Columnar cells in the epithelium of the crypts. The
structure is similar to absorptive cells. In mitosis.

EM: Cytoplasm contains secretory granules.

Function: Proliferate by mitosis to form new cells and migrate
to reach the wall of villi. Here they differentiate into typical epithelial

5. Endocrine cells (described later)
It is difficult to identify with HE staining.
The lymphatic tissue of small intestine (GALT)
 Lymphoid nodules
• Solitary (jejunum) and aggregated (ileum) lymphoid nodules.
• Most prominent in the terminal ileum, these characteristic
arrangements are called Peyer’s patches.

 Immune cells in lamina propria
Eosinophil, Lymphocytes, Macrophages, Mast cells and Plasma cells
 M (microfolds)-cells: is specialized epithelial cells overlying Peyer’s
patches. The cells can be identified by few or missing villi and
containing lymphocytes. M-cells can take up antigen and transport to
immune cells.
Distinguish features of small intestine

 Villi are an important characterization for identification
of small intestine.
 Duodenum have glands in the submucosa.
 There is not hard and fast line of distribution between
jejunum and ileum.
 Jejunum have fewer solitary lymphoid nodules and
greater vascularity.
 Ileum have abundant aggregated lymphoid nodules.
Large intestines

 Mucosa: numerous crescent-
shaped folds, no villus and no circular
folds. Well-developed large intestinal Fold
glands in lamina propria.
 Submucosa: CT with fat cells.
 Muscularis: 2 sublayers SM.
Inner circular layer is thick,
Outer longitudinal layer is thin,
and form 3 thick bands—taenia coli
 Adventitia: Serosa, except posterior ascending and descending
Lined by simple columnar epi. and the lamina propria is filled with
tubular glands.
The cells in the epithelium and glands: 4 types of cells.
 Columnar cells: absorb water and Ions, secrete mucus
 Goblet cells: secrete mucus.
 Undifferetiated cells: multiply and renew other cells.
 Endocrine cells (describe below)

 absorb water and ions
 secrete mucus

The structure of the appendix resembles that of the colon
with following differences.
1. The appendix is the narrowest
part of the gut and is a blind-
ended tubule.

2. The crypts are poorly formed.

3. The longitudinal muscle is
complete and equally thick all
round. Taenia coli are not

4. The mucosa and submucosa
contains abundant lymphoid
Acute appendicitis
A inflammation of appendix, is the
most common surgical disease of
the abdomen.

Note the blood and inflammation
debris within the lumen.

Mucosa is mostly destroyed by
the inflammation.
The endocrine cells of the guts
 The epithelium contains scatter cells that have an endocrine
 The cells can be identified by the presence of granules that
blackened with silver stain--- argentaffin cells and have a positive
chromaffin reaction---enterochromaffin cells.
 With new methods, some biologically active substances
(amines or polypeptides) have been located in these cell, which
be found in nerve system.
 Gastro-entero-pancreatic endocrine system
 The action is local on neighboring cells (paracrine effect) and
on cells at distant sites through the blood (endocrine).
Brief Summary
Digestive tract is involved in breaking down food for absorption into
the body. This process occurs in five main phases: ingestion,
fragmentation, digestion, absorption, elimination of waste products.
Oral cavity Ingestion and Initial fragmentation

esophagus Conduct food from oral to stomach

Stomach Complete fragmentation and initial digestion

Duodenum Get enzymes from pancreas and liver

Jejunum and Ileum Complete digestion and main absorption

Large intestine Absorption of Water and ions

Elimination of waste products