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Cells and tissues

Learning objectives

After completing this study unit you will be able to:

  1. Identify the main cellular components and name major tissue types
  2. Distinguish which cells belong to which type of tissue.

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The cell is the smallest structural and functional unit of all living things. It can multiply and differentiate in a tissue-specific manner. The cells in the human body are called eukaryotic cells and are typically divided into cell membrane and cytoplasm with further compartments. These compartments, also called cell organelles, are mostly membrane-bound and have their own specific functions.

In addition to the main cell components, various types of tissue play a central role in the human body. A tissue is a group of cells with similar structures and properties that collectively perform a defined and unique task. The main types of tissue are described below:

  • Epithelial tissue forms the outer covering of organs and surfaces and can be further classified into surface epithelium, glandular epithelium and sensory epithelium.
  • Connective tissue provides structural support and is characterized by having ample interstitial space between cells. Connective tissue includes loose, tight and reticular connective tissue.
  • Supportive tissue is another type of tissue that is often included in connective tissue. Bone tissue and cartilage tissue are considered supportive tissues.
  • Muscle tissue enables people to perform movements. It is categorized into three distinct types: smooth muscle, striated muscle and cardiac muscle.
  • Nervous tissue consists of neurons and glial cells and is responsible for the transmission of nerve impulses.
  • Blood tissue includes red blood cells (erythrocytes), white blood cells (leukocytes), and platelets (thrombocytes). Blood tissue plays a central role in the transport of oxygen, in the immune system and is responsible for blood clotting.

Watch the following video to learn more about cells and the different types of tissue:

Are you interested in histological analysis? Watch these two videos to learn more about histological staining methods and how to look for certain structures under the microscope:

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