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Chapter 2.

Epithelial tissues
Main contants
 1. The feature of epithelium
 2. Types of epithelium
 3. The form and distribution of different
 covering epithelium
 4. The form of glandular epithelium
 5. Epithelial specialization
The feature of epithelium
 1. Form,composition and distribution (one or more layers
 of cells tightly joined together, very little intercellular
 substance, lining inner or outside of some organs and our
 human body)
 2. Polarization (free surface, basal surface)
3. Avascularity (except stria vascularis)
4. Innervation
 The forms
– Epithelial cells are varied, ranging from high columnar to
cuboidal to low squamous cells and including all
intermediate forms. Their common polyhedral form is
accounted for by their juxtaposition in cellular layers or
masses. A similar phenomenon might be observed if a large
number of inflated rubber balloons were compressed into a
limited space.

 Epithelial cell nuclei
– distinctive appearance, varying from spherical to elongated
or elliptic in shape. The nuclear form often corresponds
roughly to the cell shape; thus, cuboidal cells have spherical
nuclei and squamous cells have flattened nuclei. The long
axis of the nucleus is always parallel to the main axis of the
 Polarity
– ie, epithelium has apical surface and a basal surface that rests on a
basal lamina. Since blood vessels do not normally penetrate an
epithelium, all nutrients must pass out of the capillaries present in
the underlying lamina propria. These nutrients and precursors of
products of the epithelial cells then diffuse across the basal lamina
and are taken up through the basolateral surface of the epithelial
– Receptors for chemical messengers that influence the activity of
epithelial cells (eg, hormones, neurotransmitters) are localized in
the basolateral membranes. In absorptive epithelial cells, the apical
cell membrane contains, as integral membrane proteins, enzymes
such as disaccharidases and peptidases, which complete the
digestion of molecules to be absorbed.
Renewal Of Epithelial Cells
 Epithelial tissues are labile structures whose cells
are renewed continuously by means of mitotic
activity. This renewal rate is variable. It can be
fast in such tissues as the intestinal epithelium,
which is replaced every 2 days; or slow, as in the
pancreas, where tissue renewal takes about 50
days. In stratified and pseudostratified epithelial
tissues, mitosis occurs within the germinal layer,
those cells closest to the basal lamina.
 Innervation
– Most epithelial tissues receive a rich supply of
sensory nerve endings from nerve plexuses in
the lamina propria. Everyone is aware of the
exquisite sensitivity of the cornea, the
epithelium covering the anterior surface of the
eye. This sensitivity is due to the great number
of sensory nerve fibers that ramify between
corneal epithelial cells.
 Metaplasia
– Under certain physiologic or pathologic conditions, one
type of epithelial tissue may undergo transformation
into another epithelial type. This process is called
metaplasia (Gr. metaplasis, transformation).
– Examples
– In heavy cigarette smokers, the ciliated pseudostratified
epithelium lining the bronchi can be transformed into
stratified squamous epithelium.
– In individuals with chronic vitamin A deficiency,
epithelial tissues of the type found in the bronchi and
urinary bladder are gradually replaced by stratified
squamous epithelium.
All Epithelia Have Basement Membrane
A Basal Lamina Is a Thickened Basal
 20-100 nm thick Lamina
 type 4 collagen, laminin, Kidney glomeruli
proteoglycans Lung alveoli and trachea
Types of epithelium

1. Covering epithelium
2. Glandular( 腺 ) epithelium

3. Sensory epithelium
4. Germinal epithelium
5. Myoepithelium
Covering Epithelium
Simple cuboidal
pseudostratified epithelium
squamous keratinized( 角化 )
Stratified nonkeratinized
( 复层 ) transitional
Covering Epithelium
1 3
11 2

6 5 4
Simple epithelium can, according to cell shape, be squamous,
cuboidal, or columnar. The endothelium lining blood vessels
and the mesothelium lining certain body cavities are
examples of simple squamous epithelium .
Although endothelial and mesothelial cells present the same
appearance in the light microscope, they should not be
considered as one cell type differently localized. They differ
not only in their embryologic origin and ultrastructural
morphologic characteristics but also in their pathologic
responses. Therefore, they react differently to several types of
insults and even produce different types of tumors.
An example of cuboidal epithelium is the surface epithelium
of the ovary , and an example of columnar epithelium is the
lining of the small intestine .
Simple squamous epithelium

 Cell:(surface view)
 Flattened
 Irregular in shape

 Nuclear
 oval
 randomly located
Cell (lateral view)
thin, not clear
Outer surface
Inner surface
Simple cuboidal epithelium
 Cell
 Cuboidal
 Nucleus
 Spheric ,
 Centrally-located
 Distribution
 Renal tubules;

Thyroid gland
Simple columnar epithelium
Tall prisms
Polygonal outline
Ovoid, basally-located nucleus
Goblet cell(in some organs)
Gastrointestinal tract; The gall bladder
The uterus etc .
Pseudostratified columnar
High columnar cell
Fusiform cell
Basal cell
Goblet cell
Respiratory system
Male reproductive system
Stratified Epithelium

 Stratifiedsquamous epithelium
 Transitional epithelium
Stratified squamous epithelium

 Keratinized-
 Nonkeratinized-

 Distribution: skin, esophagues
Nonkeratinized Stratified
squamous epithelium
 Surface: Flattened
 Middle: Polygonal
 Basal: Cuboidal or
 low columnar

 (connective tissue papilla)

Distribution: esophagus
Keratinized stratified squamous
 Form
 1.Keratinized cell layer
 2.stratum lucidum
 2.Granular layer:
 Flattened cell
 3.Middle layer:
 Polygonal cell
 4.Basal layer:
 Cuboidal or
 low columnar cell

 Distribution: skin
Transitional epithelium

 Theshape and layer of the epithelium
may be changeable, and depend on the
contraction or stretching of urinary

 Distribution: Urinary System
Transtional epithelium
(in nondistented urinary bladder)

Epithelium is thicker
Large cuboidal
Dome- shape
(2 nucleus in some cells)
Low columnar cell
Transitional epithelium 变移上皮
(in distented urinary bladder)

The thickness of epithelium
became thinner
Layer of epithelium is
Cells became flattened
Glandular epithelium
Secretory cells
mucus-secreting cell exocrine
serous-secreting cell glands

steroid-secreting cell endocrine
endocrine cell glands
Serous-secreting cell
 Form
 Cuboidal ,triangle
 Basophilic cytoplasm
 oval nucleus
 EM
 Zymogen granule
 RER, Golgi complex
Mucus-secreting cell

 cuboidal, columnar, goblet
 Neutrophilic cytoplasm
 Flat nucleus, triangle,
 Glycoprotein granule
 RER, Golgi complex
Types and Structure of gland

 1.Exocrine and endocrine glands

 secretory mucus
 portion serous SC
 Exocrine gland (acinus) mixed
 duct
Secretion models

 Merocrine: membrane-bound granules released by
 exocytosis; pancreas, salivary glands
 Apocrine: secretions released as droplet with part of
 cytoplasm from apical surface of the cell;
 mammary glands and apocrine
 sweat glands
 Holocrine: secretions released by bursting of
 whole cell; sebaceous glands
Functions of Epithelia
 1. Covering and lining surfaces (skin)
 2. Absorption (intestine)
 3. Secretion (glands of skin & GI tract)
 4. Sensation (taste buds, olfactory epith)
 5. Contractility (myoepithelium of glands)
Epithelial specialization
Specialization Of free
1.Microvilli ( 微绒毛)
 a. Finger-like projection of cell
 membrane
 b. Microfilament ( 微絲)
 c. Terminal web (终未网)
Function: Expands the surface area
 Distribution: small intestine
Microvilli (微绒毛)
2.Cilia (纤毛)
 Elongate and mobile projection
 Microtubules (微管)
 Basal body  (基粒)

 Function:
 Produce a forward-moving wave
 1.Remove the inhale granules  
 2.Move the ova( 卵 ) through oviduct( 输卵管 )
 Distribution:
 Respiratory system and oviduct etc.
Cilia ( 纤毛 )
Specialization of Intercellular
 Tightjunction or zonula occludens
 (紧密连接)
 Intermediate junction or zonula
 (中间连接)
 Desmosome  (桥粒)
 Gap junction  (逢隙连接)
Specialization of Intercellular
– The lateral membranes of epithelial cells
exhibit several specializations that form
intercellular junctions. These junctions serve
not only as sites of adhesion but also as seals to
prevent the flow of materials through the
intercellular space and to provide a mechanism
for communication between adjacent cells. The
various junctions are usually present in a
definite order from the apex toward the base of
the cell.
Intercellular junction
– Several membrane-associated structures promote cell
aggregation and contribute to cohesion and
communication between cells. Epithelial cells are
extremely cohesive, and relatively strong mechanical
forces are necessary to separate them. This quality of
intercellular adhesion is especially marked in epithelial
tissues that are usually subjected to traction and
pressure. This is due in part to the binding action of the
glycoproteins, which are integral membrane proteins of
the plasma membrane, and of a small amount of
intercellular proteoglycan. Some glycoproteins lose
their adhesiveness in the absence of calcium.
Intercellular junction
 Tight junction ( 紧密连接 )
 Linear fuse of outer membrane of
neighboring cell
 Intermediate junction ( 中间连
 Band-shaped, Dense plaque,
 Desmosome ( 桥粒 )
 Disk-shaped, dense plaque,
microfilement, media line
 Gap junction ( 缝隙连接 )
 6 subunits, channel ( open or close )
Tight junction
 Tight junctions, or zonulae occludentes, are the most apical of the
junctions. Zonula refers to the fact that the junction forms a band
completely encircling the cell, while occludens alludes to the
membrane fusions that close off the intercellular space. One to
several of these fusion sites may be observed, depending on the
epithelium under observation After cryofracture (Figure 4.7 ), the
replicas show anastomosing ridges and grooves that form a netlike
structure corresponding to the fusion sites observed in conventional
thin sections. The number of ridges and grooves, or fusion sites, has
a high correlation with the leakiness of the epithelium. Epithelia
with one or very few fusion sites (eg, proximal renal tubule) are
more permeable to water and solutes than are epithelia with
numerous fusion sites (eg, urinary bladder). Thus, the principal
function of the tight junction is to form a more or less tight seal that
prevents the flow of materials between epithelial cells (paracellular
pathway) in either direction (from apex to base or base to apex.
Tight junction
Intermediate junction and desmosome
Gap junction
Gap junction( 缝隙连接)
connexin 连接素 , connexon 连接小

Junctional complex

Tight junction

Intermediate junction

Plasma membrane infolding
( 质膜内褶)