The key difference between cuboidal and columnar epithelium is that cells of the cuboidal epithelium have a cube-like appearance, while cells in the columnar epithelium have a column-like appearance.
There are four basic types of tissues in the body: epithelium, connective, muscular, and nervous tissues. The epithelium usually forms the covering on all internal and external surfaces of the body. It also lines body cavities and hollow organs. Based on the shape of epithelial cells, there are three different types of epithelium: cuboidal, columnar, and squamous epithelium. The cells of squamous epithelium have a flat sheet-like appearance while the cells of cuboidal epithelium have a cube-like appearance, and the cells of columnar epithelium have a column-like appearance.
1. Overview and Key Difference
2. What is Cuboidal Epithelium
3. What is Columnar Epithelium
4. Similarities – Cuboidal and Columnar Epithelium
5. Cuboidal vs. Columnar Epithelium in Tabular Form
6. FAQ – Cuboidal and Columnar Epithelium
7. Summary – Cuboidal vs. Columnar Epithelium
What is Cuboidal Epithelium?
Cuboidal epithelium is a type of epithelium containing cells that are short and have a cube-like appearance. Therefore, they have equal width, height, and depth. Cuboidal epithelium normally appears hexagonal in a cross-section. Cuboidal epithelium is found in various locations within the body, including intercalated ducts, bile canals of Hering, terminal bronchioles, and renal tubules—particularly in the proximal convoluted tubule, distal convoluted tubule, and thick ascending limb.
They are further subdivided into simple and stratified cuboidal epithelium. Simple cuboidal epithelium consists of a single layer of cuboidal cells, while stratified cuboidal epithelium consists of multiple layers of cube-shaped cells. Furthermore, the function of cuboidal epithelium is protection, secretion, and absorption.
What is Columnar Epithelium?
Columnar epithelium is a type of epithelium comprising cells that have a column-like appearance. Therefore, cells are taller than they are wide. Typically, the height of columnar epithelium is approximately four times its width. Some of the cells of this epithelium have microvilli at the apical surface. Sometimes, they may have cilia as well.
The columnar epithelium may be classified based on the number of layers it typically consists of simple columnar epithelium (monolayer), stratified columnar epithelium (multiple layers), and pseudostratified columnar epithelium. The latter may seem stratified, but in reality, it is composed of only one layer of cells. Moreover, columnar epithelium covers the intestinal tract from the end of the esophagus to the beginning of the rectum and also lines the ducts of many glands. Furthermore, functions of the columnar epithelium may include secretion, absorption, protection, and transportation of molecules.
What are the Similarities Between Cuboidal and Columnar Epithelium?
- Cuboidal and columnar epithelium are two different types of epithelia based on shape.
- Both are further subdivided into simple and stratified.
- They cover many body organs.
- Both play vital functions in the body.
What is the Difference Between Cuboidal and Columnar Epithelium?
Cuboidal epithelium is a type of epithelium that has cube-shaped cells, while columnar epithelium is a type of epithelium that has column-shaped cells. Thus, this is the key difference between cuboidal and columnar epithelium. Furthermore, the cuboidal epithelium is found in intercalated ducts, bile canals of Hering, terminal bronchioles, and renal tubules, especially in the proximal convoluted tubule, distal convoluted tubule, and thick ascending limb, whereas columnar epithelium is found in the intestinal tract from the end of the esophagus to the beginning of the rectum and also lines the ducts of many glands.
The infographic below presents the differences between cuboidal and columnar epithelium in tabular form for side-by-side comparison.
FAQ: Cuboidal and Columnar Epithelium
What are the main functions of columnar epithelium?
The main functions of columnar epithelium are secretion, excretion, and absorption.
Where do we find simple cuboidal and simple columnar epithelium?
Simple cuboidal epithelium is found in glandular tissue and the kidney tubules. Simple columnar epithelium lines the stomach and intestines.
What are 4 types of epithelial tissues?
Simple squamous, simple cuboidal, simple columnar, and pseudostratified are the four types of epithelial tissue.
Summary – Cuboidal vs. Columnar Epithelium
Epithelium tissue is one of the main tissues found in body organs. It normally covers internal and external body surfaces. Cuboidal epithelium has cells that are short and cube-like in appearance having equal width, height, and depth, while columnar epithelium has cells that are column-like in appearance, meaning that the cells are taller than they are wide. So, this summarizes the difference between cuboidal and columnar epithelium.
1. Sapkota, Anupama. “Simple Cuboidal Epithelium- Structure, Functions, Examples.” Microbe Notes.
2. “Columnar Epithelium – An Overview.” ScienceDirect Topics.
1. “Epithelial Tissues Simple Cuboidal Epithelium (39914417240)” By Berkshire Community College Bioscience Image Library (CC0) via Commons Wikimedia
2. “Epithelial Tissues: Simple Columnar Epithelium” By Berkshire Community College (Public Domain) via Flickr