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What Is Epithelial Tissue?

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Definition of Epithelial Tissue



The study of anatomy and physiology is filled with many medical terms that are very unfamiliar and difficult to pronounce. One of those terms is epithelial tissue, sometimes called epithelia. The word refers to cells, the basic building blocks of animal and plant life, that cover the internal and external surfaces of the body. So, the skin that covers the outside of your entire body is epithelial tissue and epithelia also covers surfaces on the interior of the body. Therefore, it's found throughout the entire body and in, oversimplified terms, it is skin. When speaking of "internal" skin, epethelia are usually called linings or coverings. But, remember that skin also is an external covering of the body without which no one can live.

types of epithelial tissue



The surfaces of the internal and external body obviously serve different purposes. For example, a person's skin serves to protect his interior against the entrance of harmful substances, such as bacteria that can cause fatal infections and end the life of an organism, which is any living thing considered as a whole. The skin performs other functions as well. Other types of epithelial tissue have other functions. This is why the cells of epithelia (plural of epithelium) vary in shape, number of layers, and other characteristics. Few people realize the extreme diversity and complexity in something that sounds fairly simply--skin cells. Here we go again with the many difficult terms of anatomy and physiology. The types of epithelial tissue are: simple squamous, simple cuboidal, simple columnar, pseudostratified columnar, stratified squamous, stratified cuboidal, stratified columnar, and transitional epithelium.

What Do Those Anatomy and Physiology Terms Mean?



Term - Meaning:

1. Simple - single layer of cells

2. stratified - more than one layer of epithelia

3. pseudostratified - "pseudo" means false, so, simple epithelium that only appears to be stratified

4. transitional - a type of stratified epithelia that can be stretched, causing the epithelia to have a cubelike or columnar shape when relaxed. When stretched, transitional epithelia become low cuboidal or squamous in shape.

5. squamous - flat

6. cuboidal - shaped like a cube

7. columnar - shaped like columns (thin and tall)

So, simple stratified epithelial tissue consists of a single layer of flat cells. Simple cuboidal epithelial tissue consists of a single layer of cells shaped like cubes, and stratified squamous epithelial tissue consists of several layers of flat cells. These different types of epithelial tissue are located throughout the entire body.

Christian Food for Thought on the Subject:



Anatomy and physiology causes most students to really ponder the mind-boggling complexity of the body. Surprisingly, the God-inspired scriptures of the Christian Bible can cause the same, but how? There are no scriptures that would even remotely cause someone to think about anatomy and physiology--or are there? King David said, "I will praise thee; for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; marvelous are thy works..." (Psalm. 139:14). How did David, who never studied anatomy and physiology, who never looked at cells under a microscope, know that he was "fearfully and wonderfully made?" He knew by the direct inspiration of the Spirit of God--the Spirit behind the scriptures of the infallible Christian Bible.


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