Histology Guide

virtual microscopy laboratory

Chapter 4 - Muscle Tissue

Muscle tissue is composed of cells specialized for contraction. Muscle is classified into three types according to their structure and function:

Skeletal and cardiac muscle cells are called striated because they show an alternating series of bands. The repeating arrangement of their basic contractile unit, the sarcomere, produces these striations.

In all types of muscle, contraction is caused by the movement of myosin filaments along actin filaments.

The terms muscle cell and muscle fiber are synonymous.

Skeletal Muscle

Skeletal muscle fibers are long cylindrical, multinucleated, striated, and under voluntary control.

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(H&E)
(longitudinal and cross-section)
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(H&E)
(longitudinal section)
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(phosphotungstic acid/hematoxylin)
(PTAH)
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(H&E)
(longitudinal section)
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(H&E)
(cross-section)

Individual skeletal muscle cells can be seen by teasing apart a muscle.

Muscle Insertion

A muscle insertion transmits the force of contraction from a muscle to a tendon or bone.

Cardiac Muscle

Cardiac muscle are short branching fibers, have a single, centrally located nucleus, show the same striations as skeletal muscle, and are under involuntary control.

slide
(phosphotungstic acid/hematoxylin)
(PTAH)

Purkinje fibers are modified cardiac muscle cells that convey electrical impulses that coordinate contraction of cardiac muscle.

slide
(periodic acid-Schiff stain)
slide
(phosphotungstic acid/hematoxylin)
(PTAH)

Smooth Muscle

Smooth muscle cells are spindle-shaped (fusiform), have a single, centrally located nucleus, and are under involuntary control. The uniform, nonstriated appearance gives rise to the name smooth muscle.