This manual is a guide to work in the histology laboratory. Each topic is briefly introduced and this is followed by a list of slides, with commentary, to be studied in the laboratory period. The purpose of the manual is to enable the student to use time efficiently in the laboratory. You can also refer to the PDF version of the manual.

Course Overview

As the structural and functional relationships of various cells, tissues, and organs are considered throughout the course, always be aware of one simple concept: All of the tissues and organs of the body are composed of cells and the extracellular products of cells (the matrix). It is for this reason that we emphasize the basic components of cells and their matrices during the early portion of the course. With an understanding of the nature of the relationship between cells and their matrices, we can proceed to the study of the organization of these two components into the basic tissues of the body.

There are only four basic tissues in the body, although each category can be subdivided. In turn, the four basic tissues are organized into the various organs of the body, and these generally exist as interrelated functional units termed organ systems.

The four basic tissues of the body are:

  • Epithelium
  • Connective tissue
  • Muscle
  • Nervous tissue

Again, we emphasize: All of the organs of the body are composed of varying proportions of the four basic tissues, and each of the four basic tissues consists of cells and extracellular matrices. This simple concept is fundamental to the study of histology.


Any of following textbooks is recommended:

  • Histology, A Text and Atlas, 6th ed., Michael H. Ross and Wojciech Pawlina, Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, 2011
  • Junquiera's Basic Histology, Text and Atlas, 21th ed., Anthony L. Mescher, McGraw Hill, NY, 2010.
  • Histology and Cell Biology, an Introduction to Pathology, 3rd ed., Abraham L. Kierszenbaum, Mosby, 2012

Whichever of these you choose, it is advisable to read the appropriate material in preparation for lab and bring the histology text to lab.

Audio Visual Aids

There is one Columbia University website that offers sets of images for study, review, and self testing. This serves to expand and supplement the basic material in the histology laboratory exercises.

  1. Columbia Histology Atlas of Microscopic Images.
    Found at: http://histologylab.ccnmtl.columbia.edu/
    This consists of images of the histology microscopic slide set as well as electron micrographs and diagrams. It includes labels that can be removed, short descriptions, randomized self-tests and a searchable glossary.

There are numerous online histology websites. Search for "histology" or "virtual histological slides" for these sources.

We would like to emphasize that the audio-visual aids are supplementary. It is essential that the audio-visual aids not replace work with the scanned microscopic images that can be accessed through this online lab manual.

Course Director

Dr. Patrice Spitalnik