Mesothelial Cells

Mesothelial Cells

What are Mesothelial Cells?

Stage 4 Mesothelioma Clinical TrialThe n body contains many different types of cells, each of which has a specific function. In fact, some estimates suggest that within a human body there are up to 200 trillion cells! A lining of cells covers almost every organ inside the body; these cells are known as epithelial cells by scientists and doctors.

What Role Does Cell Type Play in a Cancer Diagnosis?

If a doctor suspects cancer in a patient, a biopsy is expected to take place in order to determine the type of cells that are present. Typically, while the tissue is microscopically examined, it must be stained to visualize the inner organs and cell surface.

The “histology” branch of medicine provides cell details – including if they have undergone any abnormal changes, how much development they have experienced, and monitorization of their overall growth pattern. The branch of medicine that specifically examines cancerous tissues is known as “histopathology”. When focusing on this branch, doctors will look for any findings of abnormal cells.

Some cells, known as mesothelial cells, line the pleura – the thin, double-layered lining that covered the chest wall, diaphragm, and lungs. In addition to pleura, mesothelial cells form a lining around the pericardium (the heart), and the peritoneum (the abdomen’s inner surface).

Mesothelial cells often appear like squamous cells when microscopically examined, however, despite their structure that resembles the squamous cells, they are a unique form of epithelial cell.

What is the Function of Mesothelial Cells?

Mesothelial cells have several specific functions and due to their specialization. These functions include:

  • A fluid is secreted that lubricates the lungs, allowing them to glide over the pleura during breathing. This fluid creates a “slippery” surface – similarly to the effects of a detergent. This allows the lungs to glide in the chest cavity with ease.
  • Reabsorption of any excess fluid in the chest prevents the accumulation of fluid. There is generally about half a cup of fluid in the pleural lining (about 30-50 cc fluid); this fluid is continually removed and replaced with fresh fluid. The fluid can accumulate quickly if the mesothelial cells fail to function, resulting in an unhealthy collection of fluids in the chest cavity; this is known as ″pleural effusion”. A patient may develop shortness of breath and vague chest pains while the fluid experiences a buildup in the chest cavity – these are two of the most common symptoms associated with mesothelioma.
  • Cells are also considered “non-adhesive”. In this sense, non-adhesive means that the cells do not allow the lungs to ″stick″ to the pleura or chest wall. It is not only important, but vital that the lungs are not getting stuck in the chest cavity when they inflate and deflate each time a person breathes. Although it is rare, if the lungs do get stuck then breathing will become labored, leading to serious health issues.
  • One of the largest roles of mesothelial cells is to protect and prevent organisms (such as bacteria, viruses and other foreign particles) from entering the chest cavity. In order to destroy the bacteria’s, the mesothelial cells will surround them.

Types of Mesothelioma

Pleural mesothelioma arises in the membrane which surrounds the lung, called the pleura. Pleural mesothelioma is the most common form of this deadly cancer.

Peritoneal mesothelioma develops in the lining of the abdominal cavity, called the peritoneum. Peritoneal mesothelioma is less common but is more often found in women than in men.

Pericardial mesothelioma originates in the pericardium, which lines the heart.

What Role Do Mesothelial Cells Play During Injury or Infection?

Mesothelial Cells

The mesothelial fluid contributes to the repair of damage within pleural space – the fluid helps the defense cells, or white cells, of the body to and from infection and inflammation sites while also helping to clean up any congestion areas.

The nearby mesothelial cells may be triggered to multiply and fight off an infection while repairing any gaps or damages to the pleural lining if infection or trauma disrupts the mesothelial lining. The lung can get stuck in the chest cavity or become “trapped” if the pleural lining is impaired during healing. A person’s breathing may be interfered as this can stop normal lung movements.

In the event of mesothelioma – when exposure of asbestos fibers to the mesothelial cells occurs, the cells ingest those fibers preventing them from causing damage. If exposure of large amounts of asbestos continues over time, mesothelial cells may become overwhelmed.

Continued exposure to asbestos fibers impairs mesothelial cells, leading to the development of cancer over time which may take up to 20 to 50 years.

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