Glandular epithelium types and structure banner image

The advantage of the article, glandular epithelium: types and structure is that readers will gain a comprehensive understanding of the diverse types of epithelial glands and their characteristics including:


The article glandular epithelium: types and structure encompasses various types and structures, forming the foundation of essential secretory functions in the body. Glandular epithelium (Epithelial glands) are found throughout the human body. They play a vital role in maintaining various physiological functions. These specialized structures consist of clusters of epithelial cells that produce and secrete substances necessary for bodily processes. Let’s explore the definition of glandular epithelium (Epithelial Glands) and their significance in our body’s overall functioning.

Definition of Glandular Epithelium

Epithelial Tissues mucous glands in simple columnar epithelial
Epithelial Tissues mucous glands in simple columnar epithelial

Glandular Epithelium can be described as aggregations of specialized cells. They are known as epithelial cells. These cells form a close arrangement, lining both the internal and external surfaces of organs and tissues. Also referred to as the Epithelial glands, these glands have evolved to perform specific functions. These may include–>secretion, absorption, and protection.

Importance and Role of Epithelial Glands in the Body

The importance and role of epithelial glands in the body are noteworthy. They contribute to maintaining homeostasis, which refers to the balance and stability of internal conditions required for optimal physiological processes. Here are the key roles and the significance of glandular epithelium (Epithelial Glands):

1. Regulation of Body Temperature

Sweat glands, a type of epithelial gland, play a crucial role in regulating body temperature. They secrete sweat, which evaporates from the skin’s surface. It also cools down the body and prevents overheating.

2. Digestion and Nutrient Absorption

Salivary glands and gastric glands among others, produce and secrete enzymes and digestive juices. They aid in food breakdown and facilitate digestion. These secretions contain enzymes that break down complex molecules into simpler forms, enabling absorption and utilization by the body.

3. Protection and Lubrication

Sebaceous glands are another type of epithelial gland. They produce and secrete oils that lubricate and protect the skin and hair. These oils are known as sebum. They prevent skin dryness and provide a protective barrier against harmful microorganisms.

4. Hormone Secretion and Regulation

Endocrine glands, a specific type of epithelial gland, produce and secrete hormones directly into the bloodstream. These hormones act as chemical messengers. They regulate various bodily functions including–>metabolism, growth, reproduction, and mood.

5. Moistening and Lubrication of Body Cavities

Mucous glands secrete mucus. Mucus is a slimy substance that moistens and lubricates body cavities such as → the respiratory tract and digestive system. Mucus also aids in trapping foreign particles, preventing them from entering delicate tissues and organs.

5. Fluid Balance and Electrolyte Regulation

Certain epithelial glands such as → sweat glands and salivary glands, contribute to maintaining fluid balance. They also regulate electrolyte levels in the body. Sweat glands assist in eliminating excess heat and waste products, while salivary glands aid in food breakdown and digestion.

In the next section, we will explore the Types of Epithelial Glands.

Types of Glandular Epithelium (Epithelial Glands)

Glandular Epithelium (Epithelial Glands) can be categorized into two primary types–>exocrine glands and endocrine glands. These glands differ in structure, secretion mode, and transport of secretions. 

Glandular Epithelium Types: Exocrine and Endocrine Glands
Glandular Epithelium Types: Exocrine and Endocrine Glands

Exocrine Glands

Exocrine glands, a type of epithelial gland, release their secretions through ducts or tubes that lead to body surfaces or cavities. These secretions encompass enzymes, mucus, oils, sweat, or saliva. Exocrine glands examples include → sweat glands, salivary glands, sebaceous glands (oil glands), and mammary glands.

Hormones Produced by Exocrine Glands and Their Functions

Exocrine glands do not produce hormones. They generate and release substances that serve diverse functions within the body. For example:

  1. Sweat glands: These glands aid in regulating body temperature by releasing sweat onto the skin surface, which facilitates cooling through evaporation.
  2. Salivary glands: Salivary glands produce saliva, which supports food digestion by moistening it and initiating starch breakdown through the enzyme amylase.
  3. Sebaceous glands: The sebaceous glands secrete oils (sebum). They moisturize and protect the skin. They also prevent dryness and inhibit the growth of harmful microorganisms.
  4. Mammary glands: Mammary glands produce milk in females, crucial for nourishing newborns.

Endocrine Glands

Endocrine glands, another type of epithelial gland, release their secretions called hormones directly into the bloodstream. These hormones travel throughout the body to target specific cells or organs, regulating various physiological processes. Endocrine glands are the thyroid gland, adrenal glands, pituitary gland, pancreas, and gonads.

Gonads are the testes in males and ovaries in females.

Hormones Produced by Endocrine Glands and Their Functions

Endocrine glands secrete a wide range of hormones. Each hormone serves distinct functions. Here are examples of Endocrine glands:

  1. Thyroid gland: This gland produces hormones like → thyroxine (T4) and triiodothyronine (T3). They regulate → metabolism, growth, and development in the body.
  2. Adrenal glands: These glands secrete hormones like –> adrenaline and cortisol. They are involved in–>stress response, blood pressure regulation, and metabolism.
  3. Pituitary gland: Referred to as the “master gland”. It produces hormones that control other endocrine glands including –>growth, thyroid-stimulating, and follicle-stimulating hormones.
  4. Pancreas: It produces insulin and glucagon. They regulate blood sugar levels and enable cells to utilize glucose for energy or store it as glycogen.
  5. Gonads: In males, the testes produce testosterone, responsible for male sexual development and reproductive functions. In females, the ovaries produce–>estrogen and progesterone and regulate the menstrual cycle. They also support pregnancy.

In the next section, we will delve into the structure and location of Epithelial Glands.

Structure and Location of Epithelial Glands

Epithelial glands, composed of specialized epithelial cells, play a crucial role in producing and secreting substances within our bodies. These glands are found throughout different tissues and organs, each with its unique structure and location. Let’s explore the two main types of epithelial glands.

Exocrine Glands

Exocrine glands secrete their products into ducts, which then transport the secretions to specific target locations. They can be found in various tissues and organs, like the skin, digestive system, and respiratory system. Let’s explore the structure and location of exocrine glands:

1. Structure of Exocrine Glands

Exocrine glands consist of two primary components: the secretory unit and the duct system. The secretory unit produces and releases the secretion, while the duct system transports it. The secretory unit can have different structural arrangements, such as simple tubular, branched tubular, or acinar. These variations determine the gland’s shape and function.

2. Location of Exocrine Glands

Exocrine glands have diverse locations in the body. For instance:

  • Sweat Glands: Found in the skin, these glands regulate body temperature by producing sweat.
  • Salivary Glands: Located in the mouth, they produce saliva to aid in digestion and lubricate the oral cavity.
  • Sebaceous Glands: These glands secrete sebum, an oily substance that moisturizes and protects the skin.
  • Mammary Glands: Present in the breasts, they produce milk for breastfeeding.

Endocrine Glands

Endocrine glands, another type of epithelial gland, release their products directly into the bloodstream as hormones. These chemical messengers travel through the blood to target cells or organs, exerting specific effects.

Let’s explore the structure and location of endocrine glands:

1. Structure of Endocrine Glands

Endocrine glands consist of clusters of secretory cells and lack ducts. Instead, their secretory cells are highly vascularized, allowing hormones to be directly released into the bloodstream.

2. Location of Endocrine Glands

Endocrine glands are dispersed throughout the body. Examples include:

  • Thyroid Gland: Located in the neck, it regulates metabolism and energy levels.
  • Adrenal Glands: Situated on top of the kidneys, they produce hormones involved in stress response and metabolism regulation.
  • Pancreas: The pancreas contains both exocrine and endocrine components. The endocrine portion, known as the islets of Langerhans, regulates blood sugar levels through hormones like insulin and glucagon.
  • Pituitary Gland: Positioned at the base of the brain, it acts as the “master gland,” controlling other endocrine glands and regulating various bodily functions.

Now, let’s move to the Disorders and Diseases of Epithelial Glands.

Disorders and Diseases of Epithelial Glands

Epithelial glands can experience various disorders and diseases that impact their normal functioning and overall health. Recognizing symptoms, seeking appropriate medical care, and managing the effects on the body become important in understanding these conditions.

Common Disorders and Diseases Related to Epithelial Glands

Here are some common disorders and diseases associated with epithelial glands:

  1. Cystic Fibrosis: This genetic disorder primarily affects exocrine glands. These glands are responsible for producing mucus. It produces thick, sticky mucus that obstructs airways, the digestive tract, and other ducts. It also leads to respiratory and digestive problems.
  2. Hyperthyroidism: When the thyroid gland produces too many thyroid hormones, it causes hyperthyroidism. Symptoms such as weight loss, rapid heartbeat, nervousness, and increased sweating occur. The most common cause of hyperthyroidism is –> an autoimmune condition. It is known as Graves’ disease. 
  3. Hypothyroidism: Hypothyroidism is the opposite of hyperthyroidism. It is characterized by –> an underactive thyroid gland and insufficient production of thyroid hormones. Symptoms include → fatigue, weight gain, cold intolerance, depression, and dry skin. Hashimoto’s thyroiditis is an autoimmune disorder. It is the most common cause of hypothyroidism.
  4. Diabetes: Diabetes can affect different glands. It can particularly affect the pancreas. The pancreas is an important gland involved in regulating blood sugar levels. The pancreas functions as an endocrine gland. It plays a vital role in producing insulin. Insulin is a hormone that is responsible for controlling blood glucose levels. Type 1 diabetes occurs when the pancreas does not produce enough insulin. While type 2 diabetes happens when the body develops a resistance to insulin.
  5. Glandular Cancers: Various types of cancers can affect epithelial glands. Examples include → breast cancer, which affects the mammary glands, and thyroid cancer, originating in the thyroid gland. Other glandular cancers may impact –> the salivary glands, adrenal glands, or pancreas. Early detection and treatment play a crucial role in managing glandular cancers.

Impact of These Disorders on the Affected Glands

The disorders and diseases mentioned above can have significant impacts on the affected glands and overall health. Let’s explore how these conditions affect the body and the impacted glands:

  1. Impaired Secretions: In disorders like cystic fibrosis, abnormal secretions from exocrine glands obstruct ducts, impairing organ functioning. This leads to respiratory complications, digestive problems, and difficulties in nutrient absorption.
  2. Hormonal Imbalances: Hyperthyroidism and hypothyroidism disrupt the normal balance of thyroid hormones. These hormones play a crucial role in regulating–>metabolism, growth, and development. Imbalances can affect various bodily functions and result in a wide range of symptoms.
  3. Metabolic Disruptions: Diabetes, especially type 1, affects the pancreas’ insulin production, disrupting the body’s blood glucose regulation. This leads to high blood sugar levels and potential complications impacting multiple organs and systems.
  4. Cancerous Growth and Spread: Glandular cancers cause abnormal growth and function in affected glands. As cancer cells multiply and spread, they invade surrounding tissues. They can also potentially metastasize to other parts of the body and impact overall health.

Now, let’s discuss the Treatment options for the diseases affecting Epithelial Glands.

Treatment Options

When diseases or disorders affect the proper functioning of epithelial glands, considering appropriate treatment options becomes essential. The treatment approach depends on the specific condition, severity, and individual circumstances. Here are some common treatment options for diseases affecting epithelial glands:


Medication often serves as a primary treatment method for managing diseases that impact epithelial glands. The type of medication prescribed depends on the underlying condition and its symptoms. Examples include:

  • Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT): In cases of endocrine gland disorders like hypothyroidism or hormone deficiencies, doctors may prescribe hormone replacement therapy. This involves administering synthetic hormones to compensate for the inadequate production by the affected glands.
  • Antibiotics and Anti-inflammatory Drugs: If an infection or inflammation affects exocrine glands (salivary or sweat glands), doctors may prescribe antibiotics or anti-inflammatory medications to combat the infection and reduce inflammation.
  • Immunosuppressants: In some cases, diseases like autoimmune disorders can target epithelial glands. Doctors may prescribe immunosuppressant drugs to suppress the overactive immune response and reduce glandular inflammation.

Surgical Intervention

Certain situations may require surgical intervention to treat diseases affecting epithelial glands. Surgical options vary depending on the nature of the condition and the affected glands. Examples include:

  • Removal of Tumors or Cysts: When epithelial glandular tissues develop tumors or cysts that cause functional impairment or pose a risk, doctors may recommend surgical removal. This procedure can involve the partial or complete removal of the affected gland.
  • Transplantation: In severe cases where an endocrine gland like the pancreas or thyroid fails to produce essential hormones, doctors may consider transplantation. This involves replacing the diseased gland with a healthy one from a donor or through regenerative medicine.

Other Treatment Approaches

In addition to medication and surgery, some diseases affecting epithelial glands may require additional treatment methods to manage symptoms and improve overall well-being. Here are a few other treatment approaches:

  • Lifestyle Modifications: Lifestyle changes, such as dietary adjustments, stress management techniques, and regular exercise, can often help manage symptoms and promote glandular health.
  • Physical Therapy and Rehabilitation: For conditions that cause functional impairment or affect motor skills, doctors may recommend physical therapy and rehabilitation programs to restore or enhance glandular function and improve quality of life.
  • Supportive Care: Palliative care or supportive treatments can provide symptom relief and improve comfort for individuals with advanced glandular diseases, focusing on pain management, emotional support, and maintaining overall well-being.


In conclusion, the article glandular epithelium: types and structure helps the readers to understand the diverse types and intricate structure of glandular epithelium (Epithelial glands) is key to appreciating its crucial role in secretion and maintaining homeostasis. Epithelial glands are essential structures in the body that produce and secrete substances necessary for various physiological processes. Exocrine glands such as sweat glands and salivary glands, secrete their products into ducts. While endocrine glands like the pituitary gland and thyroid gland, release hormones directly into the bloodstream. 

These glands play a crucial role in maintaining the balance of bodily functions and are regulated by feedback mechanisms and neural signals. Understanding epithelial glands helps us comprehend their significance in overall health and provides insights into the disorders and diseases that can affect these glands. By studying and researching epithelial glands, we can better appreciate their vital role in the human body.

Further Reading

IntakeLearn facilitates readers in learning and comprehending a broad spectrum of Histology articles, offering detailed insights and comprehensive coverage of various topics. We appreciate the time you dedicated to reading the IntakeLearn article. Thank you for your valuable time and attention.

For Further reading, Kindly check the below articles.

  1. Wikipedia:
  2. Wikipedia:
  3. NIH:
  4. NIH:


  1. Images used in this article are Designed by Freepik:
  2. Berkshire Community College Bioscience Image Library, CC0, via Wikimedia Commons
  3. Mntrue15, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons


Leave a Reply