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Basic Histology and Connective Tissue

Chapter 5

Histology, the Study of Tissues

Tissue Types
Connective Tissues

Histology is the Study of Tissues

200 different types of cells in the human body.
A Tissue consist of two or more types of cells that
function together.
Four basic types of tissues:
epithelial tissue
connective tissue
muscular tissue
nervous tissue
An Organ is a structure with discrete boundaries
that is composed of 2 or more tissue types.
Example: skin is an organ composed of
epidermal tissue and dermal tissue.

Distinguishing Features of Tissue Types

Types of cells (shapes and functions)
Arrangement of cells
Characteristics of the Extracellular Matrix:
proportion of water
types of fibrous proteins
composition of the ground substance
ground substance is the gelatinous material between
cells in addition to the water and fibrous proteins
ground substance consistency may be liquid (plasma),
rubbery (cartilage), stony (bone), elastic (tendon)
Amount of space occupied by cells versus extracellular
matrix distinguishes connective tissue from other tissues
cells of connective tissues are widely separated by a large
amount of extracellular matrix
very little extracellular matrix between the cells of
epithelia, nerve, and muscle tissue

Embryonic Tissues
An embryo begins as a single
cell that divides into many cells
that eventually forms 3 Primary
ectoderm (outer layer)
forms epidermis and
nervous system
endoderm (inner layer)
forms digestive glands
and the mucous
membrane lining
digestive tract and
respiratory system
mesoderm (middle layer)
Forms muscle, bone,
blood and other organs.

Preparation of specimens for histology:
preserve tissue in a fixative to prevent decay (formalin)
dehydrate in solvents like alcohol and xylene
embed in wax or plastic
slice into very thin sections only 1 or 2 cells thick
float slices on water and mount on slides and then add color with
Sectioning an organ or tissue reduces a 3-dimensional structure to a 2dimensional slice.

Planes of Section
Longitudinal section
tissue cut along the
longest direction of
a structure

Cross section
tissue cut
perpendicular to the
length of a structure
Oblique section
tissue cut at an
angle between a
cross section and a
longitudinal section

Two Dimensional Sections of Solid Three

Dimensional Objects
1 2 3 4 5

Slicing through a
boiled egg is similar
to sectioning a cell
and its nucleus.
Slices 1 and 5
miss the yolk.
Yolk appears larger
in section 3 than in
sections 2 and 4.

Sections of Complex Hollow Structures


Image A is a cross
section of a curved
tubular structure like a
blood vessel or a
section of intestine.
Image B is a
longitudinal section of a
spiraling, tubular
structure like a sweat
Notice what a single
slice could look like.

Epithelial Tissue (Epithelia)

One or more layers of closely adhering cells.

Forms a flat sheet with an unattached free surface (may be
exposed to the environment or an internal body cavity) and a
basal surface attached to the basement membrane made of
Epithelia are avascular. Epithelial cells depend on diffusion of
nutrients from capillaries in the underlying connective tissue or
from the free surface.
Epithelia are innervated by sensory neurons.
Basement membrane is a is semi-permeable layer of collagen
and adhesive proteins that anchors epithelial cells to underlying
connective tissue.
The connective tissue under an epithelium is called the lamina
Free Surface
Basal Surface
Lamina Propria

Naming Epithelia
Epithelia are named for:
the number of layers of
simple epithelium =
one layer of cells
stratified epithelium =
more than one layer of
epithelium = simple
that looks stratified
the shape of cells at the
surface modifications

Single row of
squamous (flat)
Can allow rapid
diffusion of
substances or
secretion of fluid.
Example: lining of
blood vessels or
lining of lung

Simple Cuboidal Epithelium

Single row of cube-shaped cells

Functions include absorption, secretion, conduction
Example: most kidney tubules

Simple Columnar Epithelium

Absorptive Cell

Goblet Cell

Single row of tall, narrow cells

Free Surface may have microvilli or cilia
Layer of microvilli is called the brush border
Functions: absorption, secretion (of mucus)
Example: Lines the intestines

Pseudostratified Epithelium


Single row of cells all attached to basement membrane
Not all cells reach the free surface
nuclei of basal cells give a stratified appearance
Secretes and propels respiratory mucus
Example: lining of trachea

Mucous Membranes

Consists of a mucous-producing epithelium and underlying layers of

connective tissue (lamina propria) and smooth muscle (muscularis
Lines passageways that open to the exterior: digestive, respiratory,
urinary and reproductive tracts.
Mucous forms a barrier and traps foreign particles or pathogens.
Epithelia of upper respiratory tract and parts of the reproductive tract
(oviducts) are ciliated to sweep the mucous out of the body.

Stratified Epithelia
Composed of more than one layer of cells.
Always named for shape of surface cells.
Deepest cells sit on basement membrane and are
the source of replacement cells for the epithelium.
keratinized epithelium has surface layer of dead
cells that contain abundant protein and are
surrounded by lipids
nonkeratinized epithelium has living cells with
nuclei in all layers

Stratified epithelium of
living cells forms an
moist, slippery layer.
Examples: lining of the
mouth, esophagus,

Keratinized Stratified Squamous Epithelium

dead, keratinized
epithelial cells

living epithelial

connective tissue

Surface layer of dead squamous cells surrounded by lipids and

packed with granules of keratin protein.
Dead layer is keratinized or cornified.
Retards water loss and prevents penetration of
Example: skin

Stratified Cuboidal and Columnar Epithelium

sweat gland duct

kidney collecting duct

In certain ducts, stratified columnar and cuboidal

epithelia can occur. As epithelial types, both are
uncommon. Basal cells are typically cuboidal with
surface cells either columnar or cuboidal.
Example: large ducts of salivary glands

Stratified Columnar Epithelium

epithelium with
rounded (domed)
surface cells.
Stretches to allow
storage of urine.
Example: urinary

Quiz is on material up to this


Intercellular Junctions

All cells except blood cells are anchored to each other or

to the matrix surrounding them by intercellular junctions.

Tight Junctions
Tight junctions completely encircle the cell (like a
sweat band around a persons head)
Tight Junctions form a zipper-like pattern of
complementary grooves and ridges that prevent
substances and bacteria from passing between
Tight Junctions

Attachment between cells that holds them
together against mechanical stress (shearing
A mesh of protein filaments connects integral
membrane proteins and cytoskeletal proteins.
Abundant in muscle and skin
Hemidesmosomes attach
cells to the basement

Gap Junctions
Also called communicating junctions.
Cluster of tube-shaped transmembrane proteins
that make channels between cells.
Small solutes and electrical signals pass directly
from cell to cell and can synchronize the activity
of groups of cells.
Found in embryos, cardiac
muscle and smooth muscle.
Gap Junction

Glands secrete substances for elimination or for use
elsewhere in the body
Glands are composed predominantly of epithelial tissue
Exocrine glands maintain connection to the surface
through a duct (examples: sweat glands, salivary
Endocrine glands have no ducts but secrete their
products (hormones) onto capillaries for absorption
directly into bloodstream (pituitary, adrenal) or into
interstitial fluid
Mixed organs have both types of glands:
pancreas secretes digestive enzymes into ducts and
hormones into blood
gonads release gametes into ducts and secrete
hormones into blood

Types of Glandular Secretions

thin, watery secretions such as sweat, milk, tears
and digestive juices.
the sticky secretion called mucus is a glycoprotein,
mucin, that absorbs water
Mixed Glands secrete both serous fluid and mucus
Note: Mucus is a noun. Mucous is an adjective.
Mucus is secreted by mucous glands.
Cellular mechanisms of glandular secretion include:
1) merocrine
2) apocrine
3) holocrine

Merocrine Secretion



Cells of Merocrine
Glands release their
product by exocytosis.
Clusters of secretroy
cells are called acini.
Products include tears,
sweat, milk, pancreatic
enzymes, gastric
enzymes and acid

Cellular Mechanisms of Glandular Secretion

1) Merocrine secretion is the most common type of glandular
secretion. Secretory cells produce secretory granules from the
Golgi. Secretory granules gather at the apical region of the
cell. Then, the granules membrane fuses with the apical
membrane of the cell and the contents of the granule are
opened and released by the process of exocytosis.

Cellular Mechanisms of Glandular Secretion

2) Apocrine Secretion is a rare type of secretion dependent on
the action of sex hormones on glands. Granules in the
cytoplasm of secretory cells gather at the apical region of the
cell. Then, a part of the plasma membrane of the cell pinches
off a portion of the cytoplasm containing a granule. The vesicle
breaks down in the duct of the gland. Apocrine glands are
associated with hair follicles and become functional at puberty.
They respond to emotional or sensory stimuli (not to heat).
Examples of apocrine glands include the sweat glands in the
pubic and axillary regions.

Cellular Mechanisms of Glandular Secretion

3) Holocrine Secretion results from the breakdown and
discharge of entire secretory cells. This form of secretion is
unique to the sebaceous glands of the skin associated with
hair follicles.

Holocrine Secretion

Secretory cells proliferate at the base of the gland and move

towards the duct as they mature. Once the cells are mature, they
die and disintegrate. The cellular debris are released as the oily
product of the cell.
Example: sebaceous glands are the oil-producing glands associated
with hair follicles.

Connective Tissue
Connective Tissues consist of widely spaced cells
suspended in an abundant extracellular matrix.
The volume of the extracellular matrix is greater than the
volume of the cells.

Functions of Connective Tissues

connects organs to each other
divides body regions into compartments
provides support, leverage and protection (physical and
covers and surrounds articular surfaces
stores nutrients
thermally insulates
absorbs shock
transports materials (water, nutrients, gases, waste,

Embryonic Connective Tissue

Mucoid Mesenchymal Tissue

Connective Tissue Proper

A Classification
Scheme for

Loose (areolar)
Dense Regular
Dense Irregular


Specialized Connective Tissue

Yellow and White


Supporting Connective Tissue

Hyaline Cartilage
Elastic Cartilage


Cells of Connective Tissues

All connective tissue cells are derived from
mesoderm that developes in to mesenchymal
cells as embryos develop.
Fibroblasts are the most abundant CT cell and
they produce fibers and ground substance.
Adipocytes (fat cells) store triglycerides
Chondroblasts develop into chondrocytes as
they produce cartilage
Osteoblasts develop into osteocytes as they
produce bone
Hematopoietic Cells differentiate into blood cells
Macrophages and Mast Cells can leave the blood and
enter the interstitial fluid between cells

Cells of Connective Tissues

Extracellular Matrix of Connective Tissue

The Extracellular Matrix is composed of:
Extracellular Tissue Fluid (mostly water,
similar to blood plasma)
Protein Fibers
Ground Substance

Protein Fibers of the ECM

Collagen Fibers
over a dozen distinct types of protein fibers
tough, flexible collagen fibers are abundant in tendons,
ligaments, dermis of the skin, teeth, cartilage, bone
Reticular Fibers
thin, branched fibers that form a loose, interconnected
network that hold cells, tissue fluid and ground substance
Located in distensible or spongy tissues (walls of blood
vessels, dermis, lymph nodes, spleen, liver). Stain darkly
with silver.
Elastic Fibers
also called yellow fibers because of their color in life
thin, straight fibers made of the protein elastin
stretch 150% resting length and recoil like a rubber band
give skin, lungs and arteries ability to stretch and recoil

Ground Substance of ECM

Ground substance is a gelatinous or rubbery material mixed with CT fibers
and found in between CT cells.
Molecules have a negative charge that attracts Na+ which holds water. the
water and salt help regulate electrolyte balance in tissues and help resist
tissue compression.
Ground substance consists of 3 classes of large molecules:
glycosaminoglycans (GAGs)
polymers of repeating disaccharides
important GAGs include chondroitin sulfate, glucosamine, hyaluronic
acid, heparin
GAGs are especially abundant in cartilage, bone, tendon, joints, skin
proteoglycans are GAGs linked to a protein core which form
bottlebrush-shaped molecules (see structure on next slide)
adhesive glycoproteins
protein-carbohydrate complexes that stick cells to ECM
mark pathways for cell migration during development and healing
important glycoproteins include laminin and fibronectin

GAGs, Proteoglycans and Proteoglycan Aggregates

a proteoglycan

Proteoglycan Aggregate

The proteoglycan aggregate from cartilage, shown in the electron

micrograph on the left, is formed from a hyaluronate backbone attached to
proteoglycans. The middle diagram is of a small portion of the proteoglycan
aggregate showing core proteins of proteoglycans attached to a long
hyaluronate molecule. Chondroitin sulfate and keratan sulfate GAGs are
linked to core proteins forming many different proteoglycans. GAGs have a
repeating disaccharide structure.

Embryonic Connective Tissue

The Mucoid
Mesenchymal Tissue
of Embryonic
Connective Tissue is
semifluid with thin
reticular fibers and
relatively abundant
mesenchymal cells
and blood vessels.
Whartons jelly of the
umbilical cord is an

Wharton's Jelly Cyst in an Umbilical Cord

Connective Tissue Proper

Loose Connective Tissue (Areolar Tissue)
Dense Connective Tissue
Dense Connective Tissues
Dense Regular Connective Tissue
Dense Irregular Connective Tissue
Reticular Connective Tissue
Elastic Connective Tissue

Loose (Areolar)
Scattered cells include
thin fibroblasts,
macrophages and mast
Loose arrangement of
thick, wavy collagen fibers
(C) and thin dark-staining
elastic fibers (EF).
Found under some types
of epithelia including the
mesentary of the digestive
Contains nerves and
blood vessels.


Dense Regular Connective Tissue

Densely, packed,
parallel collagen fibers
Fibroblasts sandwiched
between fibers
Forms the strong,
resilient tissue of
tendons and ligaments


Dense Irregular Connective Tissue

Densely woven collagen fibers with little open space

and few cells
Withstands stresses applied in different directions
Forms the dermis of the skin and forms capsules
around organs

Reticular Tissue

Loose network of thin, branched reticular fibers.

Supports cells in vascular, filtering organs like the liver
lymph nodes, spleen, thymus and bone marrow.
Fibers are stained very dark with silver.

Cross section of
the aorta shows
alternating layers
of muscle,
collagen fibers and
thinner, darker
staining elastic
Special stains
solutions of metals
like silver are
needed to
visualize elastic

People with Ehlers-Danlos

Syndrome usually have
hyperelasticity of the skin as shown
in these pictures. The unusually
elastic skin can be stretched much
further than normal skin because of
defective collagen synthesis in
connective tissues. This condition
also causes skin to be easily
bruised, heal poorly, and joints that
are unusually flexible (hyperflexible,

Specialized Connective Tissue

Adipose Tissues
Unilocular (Yellow or White Fat)
Multilocular (Brown Fat)
Hematopoietic Tissue

Unilocular Adipose Tissue

White or yellow adipose cells are called unilocular adipocytes.

Unilocular adipocytes are large, empty-looking cells with the nucleus
pressed against cell membrane (arrowhead). This shape is sometimes
described as a signet ring.
Unilocular adipose is found beneath skin and surrounding organs. It is used
for energy storage, insulation and for cushioning other tissues.

Multilocular Adipose Tissue

Brown Adipose cells are called multilocular adipocytes.

Multilocular adipose is found in human babies and in hibernating animals.
Cells have many mitochondria and many small droplets of fat. Multilocular
adipocytes produce heat by breaking down stored fat. Heat is transferred to
the blood through abundant capillaries.

Multilocular Adipose Tissue Distribution

Hematopoietic Connective Tissue (Blood)




Formed Elements are the blood cells classified as

erythrocytes, leukocytes and platelets.
Non-formed Elements are the components of the
blood plasma

Supporting Connective Tissue

Hyaline Cartilage
Elastic Cartilage
Compact Bone
Spongy Bone

Supportive connective tissue with a rubbery
Cartilage is an avascular tissue (no blood
vessels in the matrix) so cells rely on diffusion
from a surrounding vascular membrane, the
perichondrium, to deliver nutrients and
remove wastes. (injured cartilage heals
slowly if at all)
3 types of cartilage distinguished by the fibers
of the extracellular matrix:

Hyaline Cartilage
Fibrous, vascular
capsule called the
perichondrium covers a
clear, non-fibrous
Chondrocytes produce
the cartilage matrix.
Each cell is in a pit
called a lacuna.
Hyaline cartilage
covers the ends of
bones at all movable
joints plus the sternal
ends of ribs and is the
supportive material in
nose, larynx, trachea,

Elastic Cartilage
Fibrous, vascular
covers elastic
The cartilage
matrix has a
weblike mesh of
elastic fibers
among the
Provides flexible,
resilient, support
for the external
ear and epiglottis


Chondrocytes in isolated clusters or rows in a matrix

containing coarse, wavy collagen fibers.
Resists compression and absorbs shock
Found in the pubic symphysis of the pelvis and the
intervertebral discs.

Bone matrix stores the minerals calcium and
Compact bone provides physical support for
leverage during muscle contraction.
Spongy bone, also called trabecular or
cancellous, fills the ends of long bones and
supports the bone marrow.
Compact bone always covers spongy bone.

Compact Bone and Spongy Bone

Spongy Bone

Compact Bone

Muscle Tissue
Cells that respond to stimuli by contracting
Function is to exert physical force on other
move bones
moves blood through vessels
expel urine and feces

3 types of muscle tissue:


Skeletal Muscle

Long, cylindrical, unbranched cells with striations and

multiple peripheral nuclei.
Function in movement, posture, breathing, speech,

Cardiac Muscle

Short, striated cells connected to each other with

intercalated discs.
Usually one central nucleus per cell.
Sometimes cells are branched
Found in heart and functions to pump blood.

Smooth Muscle

Short, fusiform cells; nonstriated with only one central nucleus.

Functions to control the diameter of openings in the
gastrointestinal tract, respiratory tract, cardiovascular system
and parts of the reproductive system.


Neurons may have long cell processes are usually

surrounded by much smaller glial cells.
Neurons communicate with electrochemical signals at the
tips of the axonal and dendritic processes.
Found in brain, spinal cord, nerves and ganglia.