Glandular Epithelium – Functions, definition, structure, examples

Definition Glandular epithelium 

The glandular epithelium comprises a set of tissues that is not the epithelium that covers and lines that is specifically designed to secrete and produce of different macromolecules. Due to its primary role it is often referred to as”the secretory epithelium. It is situated under the lining and covering epithelium. It may comprise cells that perform specific functions or are comprised of organs with specific functions called glands. A gland is composed of epithelium that releases substance into tubes (tubes) or on a surface, and eventually into the blood in presence of no ducts. Certain unicellular glands, made up of special cells, may be interspersed among the basic cubic, basic columnar as well as pseudostratified epithelia.

Structure of the glandular epithelium

Glands form from epithelia covering in the fetus. They are formed by the proliferation of cells and their growth into connective tissue and then more differentiation. The shape of cellular epithelium of glands be anything from cuboidal to columnar because squamous cells are absent in the secretory epithelium.

The glandular epithelium in the glands that regulate hormones is abundant in vascularization and the innervation. The secretory cells of the glandular epithelium could synthesize, store, or let out proteins (e.g. within the pancreas) as well as the lipids (e.g. sebaceous glands, adrenal glands) or complexes made up composed of proteins and carbohydrates. The glands’ cells (e.g. sweat glands) are not very active in the production of synthetic substances and secrete mainly electrolytes and water (ions) taken from blood.

Based on the structure of glands and the existence or lack of the ducts glands are classified into two kinds:

Exocrine glands

  • Exocrine glands release their products through ducts that discharge the products onto organs’ surfaces such as the skin’s surface or the lumen of hollow organ.
  • Exocrine glands stay connected to the epithelium covering through tubular ducts that are lined with epithelium that lines the lining and transport the secreted substances to the area of action.
  • Exocrine glands’ exocrine secretions are limited, but some could have negative effects if they were to enter the bloodstream.
  • The glands that exocrine are multicellular or unicellular. Unicellular exocrine glands consist of single-celled glands that generally secrete mucus directly onto the apical portion of the epithelium that lines the gland.
  • Multicellular glands of exocrine comprise of a variety of cells. They form an exact macroscopically-sized organ, with unbranched or branched drains.
  • Each gland of the exocrine gland consists by a secretory unit and one or more ducts.
  • The secretory gland is supported by connective tissues. Each unit is connected to the gland’s duct system.
  • Structurally exocrine glands that are multicellular are further subdivided into categories by their shape as a secretory organ and how the glands have branching or not.
  • If the gland’s duct does not have branches this is known as an ordinary gland.
  • If the duct is branching the gland is considered compound gland.
  • The glands that have round secretory organs are referred to as alveolar or acinar glands.
  • The glands that have tubular secretory organs are known as the tubular glands.
  • Some glands are equipped with tubular and round secretory organs and are known as tubuloacinar gills.
  • The glands that produce exocrine hormones are classified into three kinds in accordance with the mechanism for release of secretion.
  • The glands which release their secretion from the secretory vesicles of cells through exocytosis are referred to as merocrine glands.
  • The glands that store their secretory substance on the apical portion of the cell that secretes and afterward, the apical region is separated from the rest of the cell in order to let the secretion out are known as apocrine glands.
  • In the end, the glands which cells build up the secretory substance within their cytosols and when the cell grows and breaks open to release the substance, are known as holocrine glands.
  • These cells in the secretory units of exocrine glands have the endoplasmic-reticulum which is well-developed as well as the Golgi apparatus is filled apically secretory granules throughout the various phases of maturity.
  • Alongside secretory cells, epithelia of a variety of glands that are exocrine (e.g. salivary, lachrymal, sweat as well as mammary glands) contain contractile myoepithelial cell located at the base in the cells that secrete.
  • Myoepithelial cells are abundant in myosins and actin filaments which result in the development of hemidesmosomes that connect the basement membrane and other epithelial cells.
  • In a specific group of glands exocrine, known as the holocrine glands when the secretory cell matures it breaks and transforms into its secretory substance.
  • The cell that was sloughed off is replaced by a brand new cell.

Endocrine glands

  • Endocrine glands are the category of glands that don’t possess duct systems, and therefore, release their hormones directly into bloodstream.
  • The secretions from the endocrine glands, also known as hormones are absorbed into the interstitial fluid, and later diffuse into bloodstream, without passing through the duct.
  • Endocrine hormones have a wide-ranging impact since they are dispersed throughout the body through the bloodstream.
  • Endocrine glands are disconnected to their epithelium of origin and thus lack ducts.
  • The blood capillaries with thin walls that surround the endocrine cells take in their hormones and secretions for transport through the bloodstream to the targeted cells throughout the body.
  • The glandular epithelium in the glands endocrine do not have myoepithelial cells, and is specially designed to either produce synthesizing protein or steroid hormones.
  • The glandular epithelium have a high concentration of the endoplasmic retina with the cell membrane being thin.
  • The thin membrane of the cell membrane permits the release of the hormones produced by the secretory cells via diffusion.
  • The hormones diffused are captured by binding proteins found outside the secretory cells.
  • The receptors that are responsible for transmission of hormones out of glands to the targeted sites are located either close to the cells that secrete hormones or within the cells that secrete hormones.
  • Histologically speaking, the endocrine glands belong to three kinds:
    • The Trabecular Type: in this kind of the cells are placed in cords similar to the liver and adrenal glands.
    • Type Follicular This type of cell cells form spherical shapes similar to thyroid glands.
    • Type of disseminated: in this kind the cells are placed together or in other organs similar to the Leydig cells that are found in testes.

Functions of the glandular epithelium

The most important job of glandular epithelium’s gland is the secretion.


Exocrine glands release watery mucus which helps lower body temperature and to maintain the state of homeostasis. Similar to the glands, the sebaceous glands as well as the ceruminous glands release oils that help to lubricate surfaces of epithelium, protecting it from the loss of water and microbial invasion. The salivary glands located in the mouth as well as the digestive glands (pancreas) within the small intestine make digestive enzymes which aid in digestion of food and in the digestion of the nutrients.

The hormones released from the glands of the endocrine manage various physiological and metabolic processes to ensure homeostasis and normal functioning of animals. The pituitary glands and thyroid glands play a role in the general growth and development of the body.

Similar to the adrenal glands, they regulate metabolism, the blood pressure, the immune system and stress response as well as other important roles. The ovary as well as the testes in the reproductive system make the gametes required for reproduction. The thymus gland located in the thoracic cavity is responsible the production of T cells required to eliminate foreign antigens that are present in the body.

Examples of the glandular epithelium

  • Examples of glandular epithelium are the epithelium that covers the glands of the endocrine system, such as the pituitary gland that is located at the brain’s base the pineal gland inside the brain thyroid and parathyroid glands located near the vocal cords (voice box) and adrenal glands next to kidneys, the pancreas in the stomach, ovaries within the pelvic cavity the testes in the scrotum and the thymus located in the chest cavity.
  • The glands that are exocrine include the sebaceous, sweat, and ceruminous glands that line the skin, as well as the digestive glands like salivary glands as well as pancreas.

Formation of glandular epithelium

The epithelium that forms the glands is formed in embryonic development by the formation of epithelial cells in the connective tissue beneath the epithelium. At first the glands are all connected to the epithelium of the surface through a channel known as a the duct. Later on the glands will be differentiated between endocrine and exocrine according in the absence or presence of ducts and vice versa.

Exocrine glands contain the secretory part and a duct which releases the secretory substances to an epithelial layer, like the skin, or the respiratory and digestive tracts. However, the these glands don’t have ducts. Instead, they release their secretory substances which are also known as hormones, into blood vessels, from which they are then transported to different parts within the human body.

Location of glandular epithelium

The epithelium called the Glandular is the principal component of the secretory part of glands, which is the part that creates and produces the secretory products. The gland may be a single cell of secretory like the goblet cells that are found in the respiratory and digestive tracts, or it could be a group of secretory cells which form one larger gland.

The most prominent exocrine glands are salivary glands (e.g. glands called parotid, submandibular, as well as sublingual gland) that produce digestive enzymes and saliva. sweat glands located on the skin, that produce sweat; and lacrimal glands that line the eyes, which control the production of tears. In addition, glandular epithelium could be seen as a secretory layer of cells that line the inside of an entire organ including the stomach.

The glandular epithelium may be located within the endocrine glands. They are glands without ducts that release hormones into blood. They include the pituitary, located on the bottom of the brain as well as the thyroid gland that is located within the neck as well as the adrenal glands above the kidneys, in addition to. The pancreas is thought to be an unusual gland since it has an exocrine part that is responsible for the production digestion enzymes and an endocrine component, which is that is responsible for the release of several hormones, like insulin and the hormone glucagon.

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