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This article is about the epithelium as it relates to animal anatomy. For the fungal structure of the same name, see Pileipellis.

Epithelium is one of the four basic types of animal tissue, along with connective tissue, muscle tissue and nervous tissue. Epithelial tissues line the cavities and surfaces of structures throughout the body. Many glands are made up of epithelial cells. Functions of epithelial cells include secretion, selective absorption, protection, transcellular transport and detection of sensation. In Greek ἐπί (epi) means "on" or "upon", and θηλή (thēlē) means "nipple". It is so called because the term was originally used to describe the translucent covering of small "nipples" of tissue on the lip.

Epithelial layers contain no blood vessels, so they must receive nourishment via diffusion of substances from the underlying connective tissue, through the basement membrane.

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