Stratified Cuboidal Epithelium: Structure, Functions, & Examples

Stratified Cuboidal Epithelium Definition

The apical layer of stratified cuboidal epithelium consists of cuboidal cells, whereas the bottom layer may be cuboidal or columnar. The cells in the lower layers may be distinct from those in the uppermost layer, much like in stratified squamous epithelium. The location and purpose of the epithelial tissue determine how the cells on the apical surface are modified. This epithelium is uncommon and only appears in a few places on the body.

Stratified Cuboidal Epithelium Diagram
Image Credit: mmegias.webs.uvigo.es

Structure of Stratified Cuboidal Epithelium

  • The cells in the outermost layer of the stratified cuboidal epithelium, which is made up of multiple layers, are cube-shaped.
  • Both cuboidal and columnar structures can be seen in the lower, deeper levels.
  • To guarantee there is no space between any two cells, the cells are closely packed.
  • While the other layers of the epithelium are related to one another to preserve structural integrity, the basal layer is joined to the foundation membrane.

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  • Other than the apical area of the outer layer, exposed to the organ lumen, the whole layer is covered, and all the cells are connected to one another via tight junctions, such as desmosomes or gap junctions.
  • New cell layers are created on top when the basal layer’s cells divide.
  • The epithelium in that area may operate better if these cells can adapt.
  • Dead cells that have lost their cell connections are sloughed off at the apical layer while fresh basal cells continually replace them.
  • The epithelium lacks a direct supply since it is avascular. Diffusion is how the epithelium gets the nutrients, water, and oxygen it needs.
  • However, the epithelium has its own supply of nerves.
Stratified Cuboidal Epithelium
Image Credit: Earth’s Lab

Functions of the Stratified Cuboidal Epithelium

The activities of the epithelium are also dependent on the organs because it only covers a small number of organs throughout the body.


  • Protection is stratified epithelium’s main purpose.
  • The many layers of the epithelium shield the internal organs and underlying tissues from microbial and physical harm.
  • Desmosomes and gap junctions on the cells form an impenetrable barrier that keeps outside particles out.
  • This epithelium also functions like a gatekeeper, allowing nutrients and water to penetrate cells while filtering out harmful particles.
  • The body’s cells serve as its first line of defense since they are constantly being replaced and repaired.

Absorption and Secretion

  • Limited secretion and absorption are additional functions of the stratified cuboidal epithelium.
  • A small amount of fluid is secreted into the duct by the epithelium that surrounds the ducts of certain glands, among other things.
  • Similarly, the stratified cuboidal epithelium in the urethra takes certain ions and water from the urine and absorbs it.

Locations and Examples

  • In the endocrine system, the stratified cuboidal epithelium may be seen lining the ducts of the mammary glands, sweat glands, and salivary glands.
  • In a similar manner, the stratified cuboidal epithelium is present in the male urethra and other urinary system organs.


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