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Stem Cells

Author(s): Joseph G. Marx, Ph.D

Cells: What Do They Really Look Like?

Different cells have dramatically distinct shapes and sizes. For example, muscle cells (also called myoblasts), which are required for movement, are long and thin, and contain contractile elements. Meanwhile, bone cells (osteoblasts), which are responsible for bone maintenance, are very small and round, and must live embedded in hard calcified bone. Epithelial cells, which make up the nephron in the kidney, filter waste products. These epithelial cells must be able to retain nutrients and materials needed by the body and return them to circulation, while leaving wastes, toxins, and excess water to be excreted. These cells are thin and dense.