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Learning objectives

After completing this study unit you will be able to:

  1. Explain the structure and function of the stomach.
  2. Name the different cells residing in the stomach wall and describe their function.

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The stomach is a hollow organ between the esophagus and the duodenum and is used to store and process the food pulp (chyme). Macroscopically, it is divided into cardia, body, fundus and pylorus. These differences are reflected in the gastric pits and the associated gastric glands.

The gastric mucosa is lined with single-layered, mucus-forming columnar epithelium (foveolar epithelium) that forms a protective barrier against acidic gastric juice.

While the glands of the cardia mainly secrete mucins, the glands in the body and fundus contain various exocrine cells. The goblet cells and accessory cells produce mucus, the chief cells release pepsinogens, and the parietal cells secrete hydrochloric acid and intrinsic factor. The pylorus contains mucous glands, stem cells, and G cells that produce gastrin.

The gastric glands are located close together in the lamina propria and extend to the lamina muscularis mucosae. The submucosa contains blood vessels, lymphatic vessels and nerve plexuses that ensure the supply and control of the stomach. The muscular coat of the stomach consists of three layers of smooth muscle that are responsible for the mechanical chopping and mixing of food. The outer serosa anchors the stomach in the abdominal cavity.

Watch the following video to learn more about the histological appearance of the stomach wall and its layers:

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Test your knowledge and identify the discussed structures with our quizzes or have a go at our exam questions:

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