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Simple Cuboidal Epithelium: Location, Structure & Function

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  • 0:01 What is Epithelium?
  • 1:00 Simple Cuboidal…
  • 2:43 Function & Location
  • 4:16 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Wendy McDougal

Wendy has taught high school Biology and has a master's degree in education.

Simple cuboidal epithelium is a type of tissue that is found lining parts of organs and ducts in the body. Its structure allows for absorption and diffusion in those areas. Learn more about this tissue and quiz yourself at the end.

What is Epithelium?

Our bodies are complex machines made up of many different parts and systems. On a large scale, we could say that we are made up of two arms, two legs, a torso, and a head. But that is not a very specific or scientific description. It would be much more fitting to say that our body is made up of different types of tissue. Human body tissue is composed of groups of cells with a similar structure and function. Different sets of tissue make up organs and other parts of the body.

In this lesson, we will be looking at a type of tissue called epithelium. Epithelium provides both a protective covering for our body as well as a lining for internal areas. For example, our outer layer of skin, as well as the lining of our mouths, are made of epithelial tissue. There are many types of epithelial tissue, and in this lesson we will be examining one known as simple cuboidal epithelium.

Various Types of Epithelium
Types of Epithelium

Structure of Simple Cuboidal Epithelium

Let's zoom in on this tissue to gain a better understanding of what its name means. We have already defined epithelium as a type of tissue that covers and lines body parts. When we add the word simple, this indicates that it is made up of only one layer of cells. Some types of epithelium have multiple layers, depending on their function. But simple cuboidal epithelium is just one layer thick.

The cells in epithelial tissue are joined very tightly together to essentially form a sheet. Because usually epithelium acts as a protective barrier or lining, this tissue must be a tightly-knit layer. Imagine rolling out a pie crust that you will lay into a pie plate. You want it to be a smooth sheet, with no holes or gaps so that it makes a continuous lining for the pie. It's a similar concept with epithelial tissue.

Now what about the word cuboidal? You may already have a guess as to what this says about these cells. Each cell is, in fact, shaped like a cube. It is as wide as it is tall. If you can picture dice, you can understand what these cells look like. So now that we've defined each term in this rather long name, let's put them together visually to better understand this tissue.

Basic Structure of Simple Cuboidal Epithelium
Simple cuboidal epithelium

To create a visual representation of simple cuboidal epithelium, imagine you have a bag of dice. Each die represents a cuboidal cell. You will now begin to line the dice up, with each closely touching the next. You make row after row, each touching the next with no gaps in between. When you're finished, you have a single layer of dice that is several rows wide, representing a sheet of simple cuboidal epithelium.

Function and Location of Simple Cuboidal Epithelium

Now you probably haven't spent much time thinking about simple cuboidal epithelium, because it's not a type of tissue that we can see; most of us probably aren't aware that it exists. That's because it is found hidden deep inside our bodies in places such as the lining of kidney tubules and walls of respiratory bronchioles.

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