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Anatomy Atlases: Atlas of Microscopic Anatomy: Section 1 - Cells Atlas of Microscopic Anatomy: Section 15 - Endocrine Glands

Plate 15.289 Parathyroid Gland

Ronald A. Bergman, Ph.D., Adel K. Afifi, M.D., Paul M. Heidger, Jr., Ph.D.
Peer Review Status: Externally Peer Reviewed


Plate 15.289 Parathyroid Gland

Human, 10% formalin, H. & E., 162 x.


Parathyroid glands are essential for life. in the absence of parathyroid hormone, there is a pronounced decrease in blood calcium resulting in tetany, the intense, involuntary spasm of skeletal muscle.

Oxyphil cells: Occur in groups or nests among chief cells. Larger than chief cells, cytoplasm acidophilic. Oxyphils increase with age and are not found in all mammals. Function remains unknown.

Chief or principal cells: Much more numerous than oxyphil cells and functionally important. Nucleus round and centrally located. Cytoplasm homogeneous. Arranged in cords or plates separated by vascular channels. These cells produce parathyroid hormone, which is important in calcium metabolism.

Thyroid follicle: Seen adjacent to the capsule of the parathyroid gland.  

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