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The Collaborative International Dictionary

Endothelium \En`do*the"li*um\, n.; pl. Endothelia. [NL., fr. Gr. 'e`ndon within + ? nipple.] (Anat.) The thin epithelium lining the blood vessels, lymphatics, and serous cavities. See Epithelium.


n. (context anatomy English) A thin layer of flat epithelium cells that lines the heart, serous cavities, lymph vessels, and blood vessels.

  1. n. an epithelium of mesoblastic origin; a thin layer of flattened cells that lines the inside of some body cavities

  2. [also: endothelia (pl)]


Endothelium is a type of epithelium that lines the interior surface of blood vessels and lymphatic vessels, forming an interface between circulating blood or lymph in the lumen and the rest of the vessel wall. It is a thin layer of simple squamous cells called endothelial cells. Endothelial cells in direct contact with blood are called vascular endothelial cells, whereas those in direct contact with lymph are known as lymphatic endothelial cells.

Vascular endothelial cells line the entire circulatory system, from the heart to the smallest capillaries. These cells have unique functions in vascular biology. These functions include fluid filtration, such as in the glomerulus of the kidney, blood vessel tone, hemostasis, neutrophil recruitment, and hormone trafficking. Endothelium of the interior surfaces of the heart chambers is called endocardium.

Usage examples of "endothelium".

So even without a literal blockage to an artery, if you have damage to your endothelium, you can still suffer inadequate blood flow to your heart or legs.