The term "epithelium" refers to layers of cells that line hollow organs and glands. It is also those cells that make up the outer surface of the body.
Epithelial cells help to protect or enclose organs. Most produce mucus or other secretions.
Certain types of epithelial cells have tiny hairs called cilia, which help remove foreign substances.
Epithelial cells are arranged in single, or multiple layers, depending on the organ and location.
Dinulos JGH. Principles of diagnosis and anatomy. In: Dinulos JGH, ed. Habif's Clinical Dermatology: A Color Guide in Diagnosis and Therapy. 7th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2021:chap 1.
Merriam-Webster Dictionary. Epithelium. www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/epithelium. Accessed January 17, 2023.
Review Date 10/20/2022
Updated by: Linda J. Vorvick, MD, Clinical Professor, Department of Family Medicine, UW Medicine, School of Medicine, University of Washington, Seattle, WA. Also reviewed by David C. Dugdale, MD, Medical Director, Brenda Conaway, Editorial Director, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.