Types of Cells in the Body

Cells in the human body number in the trillions and come in all shapes and sizes. These tiny structures are the basic unit of living organisms. Cells comprise tissues, tissues comprise organs, organs form organ systems, and organ systems work together in an organism. There are hundreds of different types of cells in the body and the structure of a cell is perfectly suited for the role it performs. Cells of the digestive system, for instance, are different in structure and function from cells of the skeletal system. No matter the differences, cells of the body depend on one another, either directly or indirectly, to keep the body functioning as one unit. The following are examples of different types of cells in the body.

01
of 08
Pluripotent Stem Cell
Pluripotent Stem Cell. Credit: Science Photo Library - STEVE GSCHMEISSNER/Brand X Pictures/Getty Images

Stem cells are unique cells of the body in that they are unspecialized and have the ability to develop into specialized cells for specific organs or to develop into tissues. Stem cells are able to divide and replicate many times in order to replenish and repair tissue. In the field of stem cell research, scientists are attempting to take advantage of the renewal properties of stem cells by utilizing them to generate cells for tissue repair, organ transplantation, and for the treatment of disease. More »

02
of 08
Blood cells
Red and white blood cells in the bloodstream. Science Photo Library - SCIEPRO / Getty Images

From transporting oxygen throughout the body to fighting infection, cells of the blood are vital to life. The three major types of cells in the blood are red blood cells, white blood cells, and platelets. Red blood cells determine blood type and are also responsible for transporting oxygen to cells. White blood cells are immune system cells that destroy pathogens and provide immunity. Platelets help to clot blood and prevent excessive blood loss due to broken or damaged blood vessels. More »

03
of 08
fatt cells
Adipocytes (fat cells) store energy as an insulating layer of fat and the majority of the cell's volume is taken up by a large lipid (fat or oil) droplet. Steve Gschmeissner / Science Photo Library / Getty Images

Fat cells, also called adipocytes, are the major cell component of adipose tissue. Adipocytes contain droplets of stored fat (triglycerides) that can be used for energy. When fat is being stored, fat cells swell and become round in shape. When fat is being used, these cells shrink in size. Adipose cells also have an endocrine function as they produce hormones that influence sex hormone metabolism, blood pressure regulation, insulin sensitivity, fat storage and use, blood clotting, and cell signaling. More »

04
of 08
Skin cells
This image shows squamous cells from the surface of the skin. These are flat, keratinized, dead cells that are continuously sloughed off and replaced with new cells from below. Science Photo Library / Getty Images

The skin is composed of a layer of epithelial tissue (epidermis) that is supported by a layer of connective tissue (dermis) and an underlying subcutaneous layer. The outermost layer of the skin is composed of flat, squamous epithelial cells that are closely packed together. The skin protects the internal structures of the body from damage, prevents dehydration, acts as a barrier against germs, stores fat, and produces vitamins and hormones. More »

Endothelial Cells
Dr. Torsten Wittman / Science Photo Library / Getty Images

Endothelial cells form the inner lining of cardiovascular system and lymphatic system structures. These cells makes up the inner layer of blood vessels, lymphatic vessels, and organs including the brain, lungs, skin, and heart. Endothelial cells are responsible for angiogenesis or the creation of new blood vessels. They also regulate the movement of macromolecules, gases, and fluid between the blood and surrounding tissues, and help to regulate blood pressure. More »

06
of 08
Nerve Cells
Active Nerve Cells. Science Picture Co / Collection Mix: Subjects / Getty Images

Nerve cells or neurons are the basic unit of the nervous system. Nerves send signals among the brain, spinal cord, and other body organs via nerve impulses. A neuron consists of two major parts: a cell body and nerve processes. The central cell body contains the neuron's nucleus, associated cytoplasm, and organelles. Nerve processes are "finger-like" projections (axons and dendrites) that extend from the cell body and are able to conduct and transmit signals. More »

07
of 08
Human fertilization
This image depicts sperm entering an ovum. Science Picture Co / Collection Mix / Getty Images

Sex cells or gametes are reproductive cells produced in male and female gonads. Male sex cells or sperm are motile and have a long, tail-like projection called a flagellum. Female sex cells or ova are non-motile and relatively large in comparison to the male gamete. In sexual reproduction, sex cells unite during fertilization to form a new individual. While other body cells replicate by mitosis, gametes reproduce by meiosis. More »

cervical cancer cells
These cervical cancer cells are dividing. Steve Gschmeissner / Science Photo Library / Getty Images

Cancer results from the development of abnormal properties in normal cells that enable them to divide uncontrollably and spread to other locations. Cancer cell development can be caused by mutations that occur from factors such as chemicals, radiation, ultraviolet light, chromosome replication errors, or viral infection. Cancer cells lose sensitivity to anti-growth signals, proliferate rapidly, and lose the ability to undergo apoptosis or programmed cell death. More »