What is Human Body Tissue? - Definition, Types & Examples

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  • 0:00 What Is Human Body Tissue?
  • 0:51 The Types of Tissue
  • 1:05 Muscle and Epithelial Tissues
  • 2:05 Connective and Nervous Tissues
  • 2:50 Examples of Body Tissue
  • 4:20 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.

Human body tissue consists of groups of cells with a similar structure working together for a specific function. There are four main types of tissue in a body. Learn more about them and take a short quiz at the end of this lesson.

What is Human Body Tissue

If you were to try to explain to someone what your body is made of, you might say two arms, two legs, feet and hands, a head and a torso. Or, you might go to the other extreme and say that you are made up of billions of cells. Both answers would be correct. However, there is a more specific way to describe what makes up a body. We are composed of several different types of human body tissue. But what exactly does that mean?

Human body tissue is another way of describing how our cells are grouped together in a highly organized manner according to specific structure and function. These groupings of cells form tissues, which then make up organs and various parts of the body. For example, it's easy to see and feel muscle in the body. Muscle is one of the four types of human body tissue. In this lesson, learn more about the types of tissue and how each functions for a different purpose.

The Types of Tissue

We have determined that we are made up of four different types of tissue. In addition to muscle tissue, we have connective, epithelial and nervous tissue in the body. So, how are these tissue types different? Let's zoom in on each one to better understand.

Types of Tissue in Human Body
Human body tissue

Muscle Tissue

As mentioned earlier, these different types of tissue are made of particular kinds of cells that work together. First let's look at muscle tissue. Muscle tissue is made up of excitable cells that are long and fibrous. These cells are ready for contraction, or the activation of tension in our muscles, making it possible for us to move our body parts. They are arranged in parallel lines and are bundled, making muscle tissue very strong. If you take a pile of rubber bands, line them up next to each other and attempt to stretch them, you may get the idea of the nature of the muscle tissue.

Cell Structure of Muscle Tissue
Muscle tissue

Epithelial Tissue

Epithelial tissue is made up of epithelial cells, which are vastly different from the muscle cells we just talked about. These cells can be flat, cuboidal, or columnar. They are joined tightly together, making a single or stacked continuous sheet. Like a quilt that is tightly stitched, epithelium makes an excellent protective cover for the body, in the form of skin. Epithelial tissue can also be found lining some internal cavities and organs.

Various Configurations of Epithelial Tissue
Epithelial tissue

Connective Tissue

As its name suggests, connective tissue makes up a connective web inside our body. Holding our body parts together and providing support are the main jobs of this tissue. We would certainly not be in good shape if all of our internal body parts were free-floating. Connective tissue fills in the spaces inside our body with a matrix made of fibers within a liquid, solid, or jelly-like substance. Think of a gelatin salad with fruit suspended inside, and you will have an idea of how certain types of connective tissue function.

Nervous Tissue

Nervous tissue is found within the nervous system and is made up of unique specialized cells. Like electrical circuits, the nervous system transmits signals from nerves to the spinal cord and brain. Cells known as neurons conduct these impulses, making it possible for us to use our senses.

Neuron with Supporting Tissue
Nervous tissue

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