Compound or multilayered epithelia, Biology


  • These are made up of more than one layer of cells.
  • The compound epithelia may be stratified and transitinal.


  • It has many layers of epithelial cells, however, the deepest layer is made up of columnar or cuboidal cells.
  • On the basis of the shape of the cells present in the surperficial layers.

It is of four types :-

(i) Stratified Squamous Epithelium -

  • The cells in the deepest (= basal) layer are columnar or cuboidal with oval nuclei.
  • It is called germinative layer (= stratum germinativum).
  • The cells of this layer divide by mitosis to form new cells.
  • The new cells gradually shift outward.
  • In the middle layers the cells become polyhedral with rounded nuclei.
  • These are called intermediate layers.
  • The superficial layers are flat with transversely elongated nuclei.
  • These layes are called squamous layers.
  • It is of two types : (a) Keratinized Stratified Squamous Epithelium.

(b) Nonkeratinized Stratified Squamous Epithelium.

(ii) Stratified Cuboidal Epithelium -

  • It has outer layer of cuboidal cells and basal layer of columnar cells.
  • It forms the epidermis of fishes and many urodels (tailed amphibians such as salamanders). e.g. ® It also lines the sweat gland ducts and larger salivary and pancreatic ducts.

(iii) Stratified Columnar Epithelium -

  • It has columnar cells in both superficial and basal layers.
  • e.g. It covers the epiglottis and lines mammary gland ducts and parts of urethra.

(iv) Stratified Ciliated Columnar Epithelium -

  • Its outer layer consists of ciliated columnar cells and basal layer of columnar cells. e.g. ® It lines the larynx and upper part of the soft palate.


  • This epithelium consists of 4 to 6 layers of cells.
  • The cells of deepest (= basal) layer are columnar or cuboidal.
  • The cells of middle layer are polyhedral or pear shaped.
  • The cells of the surface layer are large and globular or umbrella shaped.
  • There is no germinative layer or basement membrane but shows mitosis.
  • e.g.  renal calyces, renal pelvis, ureters, urinary bladder and part of the urethra.
Posted Date: 10/1/2012 2:40:20 AM | Location : United States

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