DENNIS KUNKEL MICROSCOPY / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY DENNIS KUNKEL MICROSCOPY / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY
Small intestine villus, coloured scanning electron micrograph (SEM). Columnar epithelial cells are seen in longitudinal section with microvilli at tips. The central region of the villus (lower left) is the lamina propia mucosa. The small intestine is the part of the gastrointestinal tract between the stomach and the large intestine. It is where most of the digestion and absorption of food takes place, via the villi, which increase its surface area. The villi have an outer epithelial cell layer (columnar epithelial cells) that possess many tiny microvilli. Microvilli are tiny finger-like projections, which increase the surface area available for absorption of nutrients such as lipids, proteins and fat-soluble vitamins. The microvilli have a rapid turnover of 3-4 days. Magnification: x500 when shortest axis printed at 25 millimetres.
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