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Leukocytes are the predominant white blood cells found in the peripheral blood. Leukocytes are counted in the thousands in the blood with measurements expressed as ranges: primate counts range from 4,800 to 10,800 cells per µl, dogs from 5,600 to 19,200 cells per µl, cats from 8,000 to 25,000 cells per µl, cattle from 4,000 to 12,000 cells per µl, and pigs from 11,000 to 22,000 cells per µl.

Lymphocytes function primarily in the immune response to foreign antigens or material. Different types of lymphocytes make antibodies tailored to the foreign antigens and control the production of those antibodies. Neutrophils are phagocytic cells and they participate in one of the early lines of defense against microbial invaders, aiding in the removal of bacteria that has entered the body. Another leukocyte that is found in the peripheral blood is the monocyte. Monocytes give rise to phagocytic macrophages that clean up dead and damaged cells in the body, whether they are foreign or from the host animal. Two additional leukocytes in the blood are eosinophils and basophils—both help to facilitate the inflammatory response.

The slightly granular material among the cells is a cytoplasmic fragment of a cell in the bone marrow. This is called a platelet or thrombocyte. Platelets participate in the stages leading up to coagulation of the blood to stop bleeding through damaged blood vessels. Blood has a number of functions, but primarily it transports material through the body to bring nutrients to cells and remove waste material from them.

Muscle tissues

There are three types of muscle in animal bodies: smooth, skeletal, and cardiac. They differ by the presence or absence of striations or bands, the number and location of nuclei, whether they are voluntarily or involuntarily controlled, and their location within the body. [link] summarizes these differences.

Types of Muscles
Type of Muscle Striations Nuclei Control Location
smooth no single, in center involuntary visceral organs
skeletal yes many, at periphery voluntary skeletal muscles
cardiac yes single, in center involuntary heart

Smooth muscle

Smooth muscle does not have striations in its cells. It has a single, centrally located nucleus, as shown in [link] . Constriction of smooth muscle occurs under involuntary, autonomic nervous control and in response to local conditions in the tissues. Smooth muscle tissue is also called non-striated as it lacks the banded appearance of skeletal and cardiac muscle. The walls of blood vessels, the tubes of the digestive system, and the tubes of the reproductive systems are composed of mostly smooth muscle.

The smooth muscle cells are long and arranged in parallel bands. Each cell has a long, narrow nucleus. Skeletal muscle cells are also long but have striations across them and many small nuclei per cell. Cardiac muscles are shorter than smooth or skeletal muscle cells, and each cell has one nucleus.
Smooth muscle cells do not have striations, while skeletal muscle cells do. Cardiac muscle cells have striations, but, unlike the multinucleate skeletal cells, they have only one nucleus. Cardiac muscle tissue also has intercalated discs, specialized regions running along the plasma membrane that join adjacent cardiac muscle cells and assist in passing an electrical impulse from cell to cell.

Skeletal muscle

Skeletal muscle has striations across its cells caused by the arrangement of the contractile proteins actin and myosin. These muscle cells are relatively long and have multiple nuclei along the edge of the cell. Skeletal muscle is under voluntary, somatic nervous system control and is found in the muscles that move bones. [link] illustrates the histology of skeletal muscle.

Cardiac muscle

Cardiac muscle, shown in [link] , is found only in the heart. Like skeletal muscle, it has cross striations in its cells, but cardiac muscle has a single, centrally located nucleus. Cardiac muscle is not under voluntary control but can be influenced by the autonomic nervous system to speed up or slow down. An added feature to cardiac muscle cells is a line than extends along the end of the cell as it abuts the next cardiac cell in the row. This line is called an intercalated disc: it assists in passing electrical impulse efficiently from one cell to the next and maintains the strong connection between neighboring cardiac cells.

Nervous tissues

Nervous tissues are made of cells specialized to receive and transmit electrical impulses from specific areas of the body and to send them to specific locations in the body. The main cell of the nervous system is the neuron, illustrated in [link] . The large structure with a central nucleus is the cell body of the neuron. Projections from the cell body are either dendrites specialized in receiving input or a single axon specialized in transmitting impulses. Some glial cells are also shown. Astrocytes regulate the chemical environment of the nerve cell, and oligodendrocytes insulate the axon so the electrical nerve impulse is transferred more efficiently. Other glial cells that are not shown support the nutritional and waste requirements of the neuron. Some of the glial cells are phagocytic and remove debris or damaged cells from the tissue. A nerve consists of neurons and glial cells.

Illustration shows a neuron which has an oval cell body. Branchlike dentrites extend from three sides of the body. A long, thin axon extends from the fourth side. At the end of the axon are branchlike terminals. A cell called an oligodendrocyte grows alongside the axon. Projections from the oligodendrocyte wrap around the axon, forming a myelin sheath. Gaps between parts of the sheath are called nodes of Ranvier. Another cell called an astrocyte sits alongside the axon.
The neuron has projections called dendrites that receive signals and projections called axons that send signals. Also shown are two types of glial cells: astrocytes regulate the chemical environment of the nerve cell, and oligodendrocytes insulate the axon so the electrical nerve impulse is transferred more efficiently.

Click through the interactive review to learn more about epithelial tissues.

Career connections


A pathologist is a medical doctor or veterinarian who has specialized in the laboratory detection of disease in animals, including humans. These professionals complete medical school education and follow it with an extensive post-graduate residency at a medical center. A pathologist may oversee clinical laboratories for the evaluation of body tissue and blood samples for the detection of disease or infection. They examine tissue specimens through a microscope to identify cancers and other diseases. Some pathologists perform autopsies to determine the cause of death and the progression of disease.

Section summary

The basic building blocks of complex animals are four primary tissues. These are combined to form organs, which have a specific, specialized function within the body, such as the skin or kidney. Organs are organized together to perform common functions in the form of systems. The four primary tissues are epithelia, connective tissues, muscle tissues, and nervous tissues.

Art connections

[link] Which of the following statements about types of epithelial cells is false?

  1. Simple columnar epithelial cells line the tissue of the lung.
  2. Simple cuboidal epithelial cells are involved in the filtering of blood in the kidney.
  3. Pseudostratisfied columnar epithilia occur in a single layer, but the arrangement of nuclei makes it appear that more than one layer is present.
  4. Transitional epithelia change in thickness depending on how full the bladder is.

[link] A

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Source:  OpenStax, Bmcc 103 - concepts of biology. OpenStax CNX. Aug 06, 2015 Download for free at https://legacy.cnx.org/content/col11855/1.2
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