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The cell is a marvel of efficiency and complexity.  It is a microcosm of the body. The following is a glossary of terms associated with cells.


Basement Membrane-This is a layer of specialized proteins and connective tissue cells which surround epithelium.

Coenzyme Q10

Collagen-This soft tissue forms the majority of the supporting tissue support for cells, blood vessels, and the framework for organs.  It is produced by the fibroblast.


Cytoplasm-This the portion of the cell within the membrane and outside of the nucleus.  In it is housed the majority of energy, enzyme, and protein production. 

Endothelium, Endothelial-These cells form the framework for all blood vessels.  The joining together of these cells forms the vessels. 

Epithelium, Epithelial-A specialized lining cell of organs.  See also What is Cancer?.


Mesenchymal-General term for soft tissues.  It includes the collagen connective tissue, neural tissue, smooth and skeletal muscle, and usually cartilage and sometimes bone. 

Molecular Biology

Mucin-Used to describe a wispy and poorly cellular substance which is present both within the connective tissue and also produced by some gland forming cancers.

Myofibroblast-A specialized cell which is actively involved in wound formation as well as providing an important component of scar formation and contraction.

Nuclear Membrane-This membrane separates the nuclear DNA genetic material from the cytoplasm and the rest of the cell cytoplasm.

Nucleus-The heart of the cell which contains the DNA and genetic material. 

Nucleoli-A specialized portion of the nucleus where the DNA material is organized around specialized proteins. 

Smooth Muscle-One type of muscle involved in involuntary contraction.  Whereas skeletal muscle such as the biceps are voluntary, smooth muscle is usually involuntary, controlled by hormonal and autonomic nervous system.  A good example are the muscle layers surrounding the intestinal tract. 

Stroma-General term to describe the connective tissue supporting matrix.

Basic Principles of Disease
Learn the basic disease classifications of cancers, infections, and inflammation

Commonly Used Terms
This is a glossary of terms often found in a pathology report.

Diagnostic Process
Learn how a pathologist makes a diagnosis using a microscope

Surgical Pathology Report
Examine an actual biopsy report to understand what each section means

Special Stains
Understand the tools the pathologist utilizes to aid in the diagnosis

How Accurate is My Report?
Pathologists actively oversee every area of the laboratory to ensure your report is accurate

Robbins Pathologic Basis of Disease. Sixth Edition. WB Saunders 1999.

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Last Updated 1/14/2003

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