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Difference Between Epithelial and Connective Tissue

Cells make up all tissues, tissues make up organs, organs make up systems and systems make up organisms. Cells have different types that make up different tissues. Each has different characteristics, but the epithelium and connective tissues are commonly confused for each other. To distinguish the differences between the two, below are detailed explanations and descriptions.

Epithelial Tissues

Common sense tells us that epithelial cells make up epithelial tissues. They are arranged in a single or multiple layers. These comprise the internal and external linings of body cavities like the skin, lungs, kidneys, mucous membranes and so on. These cells are very close to each other and have very small matrix amid them. Between the cells are snug junctions that regulate the passage of substances. There are no blood vessels or capillaries found in these tissues, but they get their nutrients from an underlying thin sheet of connective tissues known as the basement membrane.

∙    Types of Epithelial Tissue

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1. Simple Epithelium – one layer of epithelial cells that lines the surfaces and cavities.

a. Simple Squamous

b. Simple Cuboidal

c. Simple Columnar

d. Pseudostratified Columnar

2. Stratified epithelium – multiple layers of epithelial cell that lines, surfaces and body cavities.

a. Stratified Squamous

b. Stratified Cuboidal

c. Transitional

Connective Tissues

Connective tissues are composed of fibers forming a network and a semi fluid intracellular matrix. It is where blood vessels and nerves are embedded. It is responsible for distributing nutrients and oxygen throughout the tissues.  It forms the skeleton, the nerves, fat, blood and the muscles. It functions not only to support and protect but it binds other tissues to promote a way for communication and transport. In addition the adipose, one type of connective tissue is responsible for providing heat in the body. The connective tissues are vital and significant component of almost all organs in the body.

∙    Types of Connective Tissue

1. Loose Connective Tissue

2. Adipose Tissue

3. Blood

4. Fibrous Connective Tissue

5. Cartilage

6. Bone


Epithelial vs. Connective Tissues



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Forms the external and internal surface of the organs. This tissue acts as a barrier that regulates the substances that enters and exits the surfaces.

Connective tissues bind, protect and support other tissues and organs.


Cells are arranged in a single or multiple layers.

The cells in the connective tissue are scattered in the matrix.


It is made up of epithelial cells and little amount of intracellular matrix.

It is made up of cells and large amount of intracellular matrix.

Blood capillaries

There are no blood capillaries surrounding the tissue and they get their nutrients from the basement membrane.

Connective tissues are surrounded by blood capillaries which is where they get their nutrients from.

Location in relation to the basement membrane

The epithelial tissues are found above the basement membranes.

The connective tissue lies below the basal membrane.


Epithelial tissues develop from ectoderm, mesoderm and endoderm

Connective tissues develop from mesoderm.

Where can these tissues be found?

Skin, mucous membranes, glands, organs like the lungs, kidneys,

Adipose, bone, ligaments, tendons, nerves, cartilage, muscles

Epithelial tissues and connective tissue differ in so many ways, but they both work in conjunction with each other and among other types of tissues. It is incredible that the body is made up of these that make every systems function at their best. The study of the human body made us understand how amazing it is and it is up to us to maintain it by taking care of our well being and staying healthy.

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