Epithelial Cells and Tissues
Tissues are groups of like cells together performing a common function or
functions. The epithelial tissues are specialized to cover surfaces and line cavities.
They are also secretory. Click on the tabs for more information on Epithelial tissue.
Epithelial Cell Types
By observing microscopic preparations of epithelial tissues, one can classify the
cells of epithelial tissues into three general types: columnar, cuboidal, and flat
Epithelial Tissue Types
If an epithelial tissue consists of a single layer of cells, it is called a simple
When there are several layers of cells, it is called a stratified epithelial tissue.
In both cases, the epithelial tissue is further identified by the type of epithelial
cell that forms the outermost layer of the tissue. For example, the outer layer
(epidermis) of the skin is a stratified squamous epithelium; squamous cells form the
outermost of many layers.
Lining of Serous Cavities
The many serous cavities of the body are lined with a simple squamous
epithelium. This epithelial tissue also secretes a serous fluid to act as a lubricant,
reducing frictional forces of organs moving against each other.
An example of this is found on the outer surfaces of the lungs, which move on the
inside of the chest wall (within the pleural cavity) during breathing.
Outer Surface of the Body
The outer layer of the skin is a stratified squamous epithelium. In it, there are
many layers of cells. The outermost layers consist of squamous, or flat, cells.
Secretory epithelial cells, such as those in various glands, have a well-developed
In one type of secretory cells, the secretions are passed through the cell membrane.
In another type of secretory cells, those of the sebaceous glands, a portion of the cell
containing the secretion is sloughed off from the cell.
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