Epithelium I (the first of four tissues


Reading Assignment: Junqueira & Carneiro, Chapt. 2&4 Gartner & Hiatt, Chapter 2
Dr. Kelly Selman November 30, 2007

• Consist of cells and extra-cellular (non-cellular) components that are organized to perform specific functions • Have certain morphological and functional characteristics • Four basic types of tissues: – Epithelium (lines surfaces; glandular secretions) – Connective tissue (support & protection) – Muscle (movement) – Nerve (conducts impulses)

Paraffin section of the mucosa that lines the underside of the tongue (H&E)

Connective tissue


Plastic section through the tongue showing all 4 types of tissue

Blood vessel

Connective Tissue


Where found? •Form sheets of cells that cover all internal and external surfaces. Forms barriers. •All glands are made up of epithelium, both the secretory portions and non secretory portions (ducts). •Embryological derivation: all 3 germ layers. •Functions:
Protection Absorption Transport Secretion Gas Exchange Sensory **STRUCTURE REFLECTS FUNCTION**


Morphological characteristics of an epithelium
• Cells in close apposition (forms sheets of cells) • Cells rest on a basement membrane (BM) • Cells are adhesive
– Intercellular junctions

• Tissue is avascular

– Overlies vascular connective tissue (lamina propria)


• Epithelia form polarized sheets of cells
– These sheets of cells have a free surface and a surface that rests on a basement membrane (BM)
• Free surface = apical surface • Surface on BM = basal surface

– Each cell of an epithelium also has an apical surface and a basolateral surface with different functions. Regions maintained, in part, by intercellular junctions – Surface modifications of cells reflect functions at those surfaces

•Organelles are polarized within cells

Pancreatic acinar cell

Junqueira & Carneiro Fig. 4-26

Classification of Epithelia
Based on morphology of cells and NOT on functional characteristics
• Shape of apical cells
• Arrangement of cells

– Squamous – Cuboidal – Columnar

– Simple – Stratified – Pseudostratified – Transitional

• Apical surface specializations

Classification of Epithelium
Simple Pseudostratified



See: Junqueira & Carneiro (Fig. 4-12)

Simple squamous epithelium


a simple squamous epithelium

4-13 Junqueira & Carneiro



Basement membrane

Striated border at apical surface

A simple columnar epithelium may have more than 1 type cell within in.

Pseudostratified columnar epithelium with cilia (on apical surface)
cilia Free surface


NOTE: All cells rest on basement membrane but they do not all reach the free surface

Basal surface


(Note: most apical cells are cuboidal in shape)
Duct of mucous gland

Stratified cuboidal epithelium

See Junqueira and Carneiro, Fig. 4-33

Stratified squamous non-keratinized epithelium
Nuclei at free surface

Stratified squamous non-keratinized epithelium (SSE) of oral mucosa
SSE Free surface ( faces oral cavity)

Oral mucosa of cheeks

Stratified squamous keratinized epithelium

Keratinized layer Epithelium

Thin skin (H&E)

Thick skin (H&E)

Transitional Epithelium

Basement membrane
Urinary bladder, H&E

Characterized by several layers of nuclei, apical cells that bulge into the lumen and some cells with 2 nuclei

SEM basement membrane

Basement membrane

Basement membrane

Basement membrane (PAS+)
Intestinal lumen

Basement membrane at basal surface (PAS+) Intestinal lumen

Apical surface

Basement membrane
--Thin sheet of extracellular material at the basal surface of all epithelia --Separates epithelia from the underlying CT --Structural attachment site for its overlying epithelial underlying CT --Synthesized primarily by overlying epithelial cells cells); it is part of extracellular matrix --Not visible in LM with H&E staining but is PAS+ --“Basement membrane” is LM term --Not just found associated with epithelia; “External lamina” in other tissue (i.e., muscle cells, adipocytes and Schwann cells) cells and its (+/- CT

In the TEM Basement membrane may consist of 2 regions (basal lamina & reticular lamina)

Basal cytoplasm of epithelial cell

Basal lamina (or Lamina densa)

Basement membrane in LM (PAS+) BM has basal lamina and reticular lamina

Components of basement membrane
Basal lamina: always present, synthesized by epithelial cells, visible only by TEM • Lamina lucida (Lamina rara): – translucent & closest to cell membrane – contains fine strands that connect cell to lamina densa • Lamina densa: – electron dense layer (20-100 nm) – meshwork randomly-woven 4 nm filaments (Type IV collagen) Reticular lamina: not always present, contains reticular fibers & is made by underlying CT cells

Composition of Basal lamina
• Type IV collagen
– primarily in lamina densa – structural; meshwork is physical filter – serves as attachment substrate with specific binding sites

• Laminin
– Cross-shaped multiadhesive glycoprotein primarily in lamina lucida – “glue” between cell membrane (integrins) and lamina densa (type IV collagen) – has binding sites for integrins and Type IV collagen

• Perlecan: A heparan sulphate containing proteoglycan
-It is highly negatively charged and thus helps regulate permeability of BL based on charge

Cytoskeleton-plasma membrane-basal lamina

(inside cell)

Cell membrane

Plasma membrane Basal lamina
Extracellular matrix Laminin Type IV collagen Integrins

(outside cell)

Integrins: a family of trans-membrane linker proteins that function as matrix receptors (fibronectin receptor, laminin receptor, collagen receptor…..)

Functions of Basal lamina
• Adhesion of epithelial cells to underlying CT (not just epithelial cells [“external lamina”] ) • Selective permeability barrier (filter based on charge and size [<50 kD]) • NOT a diffusion barrier (epithelium is avascular) • Good substrate for cell migration (during wound repair and embryonic development) • Barrier that is critical to “metastatic potential” of epithelial cancer cells (carcinomas).
-A carcinoma in situ has not breached the basement membrane

Surface specializations of epithelial cells
Epithelial cells have specializations at their surfaces that reflect the function of the cell at that surface. 1. Apical surface: microvilli, cilia, stereocilia 2. Lateral surface: intercellular junctions 3. Basal surface: basement membrane, junctional specializations, plasma membrane interdigitations

Cytoskeleton (Review in J&C, p.43-48)

• Microfilaments - composed of actin, ~7 nm in diameter • Intermediate filaments - composed of tissue-specific IF proteins (e.g., keratin, vimentin), ~10 nm in diameter • Microtubules - composed of tubulin, ~25 nm in diameter

Apical specializations
• Microvilli
– Finger-like processes extending from apical surface (1-2 µm in length) – Have a core of actin filaments (6 nm thin, “microfilaments”) – Very extensive in absorptive epithelium (increase surface area), called “striated border” or “brush border” – Bundles of actin filaments extend into region of cell called: “terminal web”

Simple columnar epithelium with striated border
Striated border

Terminal web

Small intestine, plastic section, toluidine blue

Microvilli (TEM) *
Terminal web

* *

Microvillus-Terminal Web
Terminal web Microvilli Cell coat


Actin filaments of the microvillus extend into the terminal web

Junqueira & Carneiro Fig. 4-8

• Long (5-10µm) cytoplasmic extensions • Do NOT have a core of actin filaments • Have a complex arrangement of microtubules (9+2) called “axoneme” • Tubulin is the major protein within cilia • Facilitate flow of fluid over an epithelium (tubular organ like trachea)


Pseudostratified columnar epithelium with cilia

Trachea H&E



Cilia and basal bodies


Basal body

Junqueira & Carneiro Fig. 4-


Kartagener’s Syndrome (KS)
“Immotile-cilia syndrome”
•Autosomal recessive dissease (1/32000 live births in US) • Patients present with: •chronic upper and lower respiratory tract disease
(resulting from ineffective mucociliary clearance)

•Sterility in males •~50% display situs inversus (transposed viscera) •Biopsy examinations reveal abnormal and/or nonmotile cilia
Normal KS Dynein arms


Epididymis, H&E

Long, immotile, branched microvilli that are found in the male reproductive tract

Intercellular Junctions


Laboratory 2 Slide Preview The Cell & Epithelium I

Slide 94e: Epididymis (H&E)

Golgi complex

Slide 94e: Epididymis (H&E) This slide demonstrates a “negatively stained” Golgi complex

Slide 94f: Epididymis, (Golgi complex, Osmium tetroxide fixed & stained)


Osmium Stained Golgi Sperm

This slide demonstrates an Osmium stained Golgi complex

Lumen with sperm

nucleus Golgi




Slide 65d, Liver, plastic (H&E)

Slide 65d, Liver, plastic (H&E)

Slide 65e, Liver, glutaraldehyde/OsO4 fixation, plastic, toluidine blue Toluidine blue: metachromatic dye that stains glycogen magenta

RBC Lipid droplets



Slide 65e, Liver, glutaraldehyde/OsO4 fixation, plastic, toluidine blue

Liver hepatocyte (from EM packet)

TEM of liver hepatocyte


Slide 55d, Pyloric stomach (plastic, H&E)



Slide 55d, Pyloric stomach (plastic, H&E)

Slide 82a, thyroid, H&E

Slide 82a, thyroid, H&E