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Histology of Nasal cavity and larynx

Nasal cavity proper

Respiratory mucosa Olfactory mucosa


Histology of the Respiratory System

Consists of Lungs and the passages that reach them
Nasal cavity,pharynx,trachea,bronchi and

intrapulmonary continuations Their walls have a Skeletal basis Bone ,cartilage and connective tissue Skeletal basis keeps the passage patent

Smooth muscle is present in the wall of trachea and

bronchii It helps in the alteration of size of the lumen Epithelium lining is by pseudo stratified ciliated columnar epithelium Epithelium is kept moist by secretions of serous glands

Numerous goblet cells and mucous glands cover the epithelium Protective mucous secretion serves to trap the dust particles This mucous is constantly moved to the pharynx by the movement of the cilia When mucous secretion accumulates results in coughing Deep to the mucous there are numerous blood vessels

Anatomy of the respiratory

system. Anatomically, the respiratory tract has upper and lower parts. Histologically and functionally, the respiratory system has a conducting portion, which consists of all the components that condition air and bring it into the lungs, and a respiratory portion, where gas exchange actually occurs, consisting of respiratory bronchioles, alveolar ducts, and alveoli in the lungs. Portions of two sets of paranasal sinuses are shown here.

Nasal cavity
Three distinct regions
Vestibule Respiratory mucosa Olfactory mucosa

Vestibule: consists of nasal cavity lined by skin which

is continous with that of the exterior Receptors of smell are located in the olfactory mucosa Present along the superior concha and adjoining nasal septum Respiratory mucosa lined by pseudostratified ciliated columnar epithelium

Sagital section of the head. Note: the 3 concha, roof and floor.

Coronal section of the nasal cavity. Note: nasal septum and its core of hyaline cartilage, concha and core of bone.

Coronal section of the nasal cavity. Note: the 3 pairs of concha, nasal septum.

Respiratory mucosa
Mucosa lined by pseudostratified columnar epithelium
Following cells are present Goblet cells:scattered in the epithelium produce

mucous Ciliated columnar cells with microvilli Basal cells lying near the basal lamina

Gives rise to ciliated cells to replace those lost

May be lined by simple ciliated columnar epithelium

or even cuboidal epithelium Deep to basal lamina the mucosa contains a layer of fibrous tissue Mucosa is firmly adherent to pericondrium

Pseudostratified columnar ciliated epithelium with goblet cells. Note: Ciliated columnar cells are most abundant, goblet cells with nuclei at base. All cells of this epithelium rest on basal lamina, therefore epithelium is simple.

Fibrous tissue contains lymphocytes

Contains mucous and serous glands Basophilic granules which secrete amylase Others with eosinophilic granules produce lysozyme Deeper part of mucosa contain rich capillary network

Pseudo stratified columnar ciliated epithelium

Characteristic of upper respiratory tract
Cells appear in several layers Nuclei are at different levels Because the cells are of different shapes and size They fail to reach the surface Deeper nuclei belong to the basal cells Superficial oval nuclei belong to columnar ciliated

cells Intermediate between them are the goblet cells

The short motile cilia are numerous

Each cilium arises from a basal body Basal bodies are located beneath the cell membranes The clearly visible basement membrane separates

surface epithelium from lamina propria In the connective tissue there is a presence of collagen fibres,fibroblasts,scattered lymphocytes and blood vessels

Features of a Concha

Respiratory mucosa. Note the mucosa tightly adherent to the bone.

Electron micrograph of human respiratory mucosa. Note: goblet cells with numerous droplets, these contain glycoprotein, ciliated cells, basal cells.

Section of respiratory epithelium. Note: Goblet cells, ciliated cells, well developed basal lamina, lamina propria with blood vessels, glands deep in lamina propria.

Blood flowing through the network warms the

inspired air Variation in blood flow can cause swelling or shrinkage of the mucosa Respiratory mucosa lines the paranasal sinuses Closely bound to the underlying periosteum called mucoperiosteum

Lamina propria of nasal mucosa contains

lymphocytes,plasma cells,macrophages,few neutrophils and eosinophils Eosinophils increase greatly in persons suffering from allergic rhinitis

Respiratory Mucosa
Ciliated columnar cells most abundant
(1) Each cell has about 300 cilia on apical surface. (2) Beneath cilia are many small mitochondria which supply ATP for beating of the cilia.

Goblet cells- next most abundant

(1) Apical portion of cell contains mucous droplets composed of glycoproteins

Brush cells
(1) many microvilli on apical surface (2) possess afferent nerve endings on basal surfaces (3) Considered to be sensory receptors

Olfactory mucosa
Yellow in colour
Contains lining epithelium and lamina propria Olfactory epithelium is pseudostratified Epithelium lining the olfactory mucosa is much

thicker than the lining of respiratory mucosa

In the epithelium there is a superficial zone of clear

cytoplasm Below which there are several rows of nuclei Three types of cells can be identified Olfactory cells Sustentacular cells Basal cells

Olfactory Cells
Modified neurons
Each cell has a central part containing a rounded

nucleus Distal part Proximal part Distal part passes to the olfactory epithelium It ends in a knob

From the knob a number of non motile olfactory cilia

arise It projects into a layer of fluid covered with epithelium Proximal process represents the axon It passes into the connective tissue where it forms one fibre of olfactory nerve

Diagram Showing Olfactory Mucosa.

Note: receptor cells with axons passing through basal lamina, dendron of cells extending to surface and forming olfactory vesicle, cilia projecting from vesicles.

Also note: basal cells columnar cells and Bowmans glands, junctional complex between cells.

Nuclei of olfactory cells lie at various levels in basal 2/3

of the epithelium Olfactory cells have a short life Dead olfactory replaced by new cells Produced by the division of basal cells

Sustentacular cells
Support olfactory cells Nuclei are oval and lie near the free surface of the

epithelium Free surface has numerous microvilli Cytoplasm contains Lipofuscin They are also phagocytic

Olfactory Mucosa
Epithelium-pseudo-stratified columnar ciliated. About

100micrometers thick. Cilia non-motile, no goblet cells. Thicker than non-sensory respiratory epithelium. 3 cell types; olfactory receptors, supporting cells, basal cells. Receptor cells: primary neurons, bipolar neurons.

H&E section of olfactory mucosa.

Note: Bowmans glands, olfactory nerves.

Basal cells lie deep in the epithelium Donot reach the luminal surface Basal cells havea supporting function Lamina propria lying deep to the olfactory epithelium consist of connective tissue The connective tissue consists of blood capillaries,lymphatic capillaries and olfactory nerve bundles

Olfactory mucosa. Note non-myelinated axons of receptor cells group and become ensheathed by schwann cells (fila olfactoria) and form bundles of olfactory nerves.

Olfactory epithelium. (a, b): The olfactory epithelium covers the superior conchae bilaterally and sends axons from throughout its entire 10 cm2 area to the brain via small openings in the cribriform plate of the ethmoid bone. It is a pseudostratified epithelium, containing basal stem cells and columnar support cells in addition to the bipolar olfactory neurons. The dendrites of these neurons are at the luminal ends and have cilia specialized with many membrane receptors for odor molecules. Binding such ligands causes depolarization which passes along basal axons to the olfactory bulb of the brain X200. H

It also contains serous glands of Bowman

The secretions constantly wash the surface of the

epithelium It offers protection against bacteria

Salient Features of Nasal Cavity

Nasal Septum:
Core of hyaline cartilage Epithelium is Mostly Pseudostratified Columnar Ciliated with Goblet Cells Lamina Propria loose Ct with diffused lymphatics ,Blood vessels, Mixed glands

Three pairs of concha

Core of bone

Epithelium is Mostly Pseudostratified Columnar Ciliated with Goblet Cells

Superior concha lined by olfactory mucosa Lamina Propria loose Ct with diffused lymphatics ,Blood vessels, Mixed glands

Scanning electron micrograph. Top: Note, most of surface covered with cilia. G, goblet cells. Bottom, mucus evident in goblet cells (thin arrow), brush cells (thick arrow).

Wall of the larynx is a complex structure
It has muscles,cartilages and membranes Cartilage of larynx is made up of hyaline cartilage

Corniculate,Cuneiform,Apical part of aryetnoid cartilage is made up of elastic cartilage

Calcification occurs in hyaline cartilage

Mucous membrane
Pseudostratified ciliated columnar
Some parts in contact with swallowed food The epithelium is stratified squamous These parts include epiglottis Anterior surface and upper part of posterior surface Upper part of aryepiglottic folds

Frontal section of larynx.

Note: respiratory epitheliium, stratified squamous epithelium of the true vocal cords, well developed skeletial muscle and hyaline cartilage.

Vocal folds dont come in contact with swallowed food

Their lining epithelium is exposed to stress during

vibration of vocal folds

These folds are lined by stratified squamous


Section of the larynx showing:

vestibular folds (false vocal folds) with respiratory epithelium, true vocal folds with stratified sq.

Numerous goblet cells and subepithelial glands

provide mucous covering to the epithelium Mucous glands are specially numerous over the epiglottis The glands in the saccule provide lubrication to the vocal cords Serous glands and lymphoid tissue are also present

EM studies show that epithelial cells lining the vocal

cords bear microvilli Ridge like foldings on the surface plasma membrane These are called Micro plicae These help to retain fluids on the surface of cells to keep them moist

The connective tissue subjacent to the epithelial lining

of vocal cords is devoid of lymph vessel This factor shows down lymphatic spread of cancer arising in the epithelium of the vocal cords

Larynx. The larynx is a short passageway for air between the pharynx and trachea. Its wall contains skeletal muscles and pieces of cartilage, all of which make the larynx specialized for sound production. The low power micrograph shows the upper laryngeal vestibule (LV), which is surrounded by seromucous glands (G). The lateral walls of this region bulge as a pair of broad folds, the vestibular folds (VF). These also contain seromucous glands and areolar tissue with MALT, often with lymphoid nodules (L) and are largely covered by respiratory epithelium, with regions near the epiglottis having stratified squamous epithelium. Below each large vestibular fold is a narrow space or ventricle (V), below which is another pair of lateral folds, the vocal folds or cords (VC). These are covered by stratified squamous epithelium and project more sharply into the lumen, defining the rim of the opening into the larynx itself. Each contains a large striated vocalis muscle (VM) and nearer the surface a small ligament, which is cut transversely and therefore difficult to see here. Variable tension of these ligaments caused by the muscles produces different sounds as air is expelled across the vocal cords. All the structures and spaces above these folds add resonance to the sounds and assist in phonation. X15. H&E.

Larynx Epithelium changes from respiratory to stratified squamous at the true vocal folds. Abundant Skeletal muscles Hyaline Cartilage Lamina Propria: loose Ct with diffused lymphatics Blood vessels, Mixed glands

Epithelial change from respiratory to stratified squamous at the true vocal folds.

Stratified squamous epithelium

Composed of numerous cell layers
The basal cells are cuboidal or columnar Cytoplasm is finely granular Cells in the intermediary area are polyhyderal with

round or oval nuclei Mitoses are frequently observed in the deeper layers Above the polyhyderal cells the squamous cells are present

The connective tissue contains collagen

fibres,fibroblasts and capillaries Stratified squamous when exposed to increased wear and tear The outer most stratum cornea becomes thick and keratinized

Central core of elastic cartilage
Overlying the cartilage there is mucous membrane Greater part of the mucous membrane is lined by

stratified squamous epithelium[non keratinizing]

Mucous membrane over the lower part of the posterior

surface of epiglottis is pseudostratified ciliated columnar epithelium This part of the epiglottis does not come in contact with swallowed food as it is overlapped by aryepiglottic fold Some taste buds are present in the epithelium of the epiglottis


Numerous glands predominantly are present

They are present in the mucosa deep to the epithelium Some of them are present in depression present on the

elastic cartilage

Epiglottis is an unpaired cartilage of the larynx

Paranasal sinuses are lined by respiratory epithelium

Pseudo stratified ciliated columnar epithelium

Figure 172. Respiratory epithelium. Respiratory epithelium is the classic example of pseudostratified ciliated columnar epithelium. (a): Details of its structure vary in different regions of the respiratory tract, but it usually rests on a very thick basement membrane (BM) and has several cell types, some columnar, some basal and all contacting the basement membrane. Ciliated columnar cells are the most abundant, with hundreds of long robust cilia (C) on each of their bulging apical ends which provide a lush cover of cilia on the luminal surface. Most of the small rounded cells at the basement membrane are stem cells and their differentiating progeny, which together make up about 30% of the epithelium. Intraepithelial lymphocytes and dendritic cells are also present in respiratory epithelium. Mucussecreting goblet cells (G) are also present. The lamina propria is wellvascularized (V). X400. Mallory trichrome. (b): SEM shows the luminal surface of goblet cells (G) among the numerous ciliated cells. X2500. (c): As shown by SEM of another region, goblet cells (G) predominate in some areas, with subsurface accumulations of mucus evident in some (arrows). The film of mucus traps most airborne dust particles and microorganisms and the ciliary movements continuously propel the sheet of mucus toward the esophagus for elimination. Other columnar cells, representing only about 3% of the cells in respiratory epithelium, are brush cells (B) with small apical surfaces bearing a tuft of short, blunt microvilli. Brush cells have features of chemosensory receptors but their physiological significance is highly uncertain. X3000. (Figure 172b and 17 2c reprinted, with permission, from John Wiley & Sons, Inc., Am. J. Anat. 1974;139:421. Copyright 1974.)