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What is Glandular Tissue?

Mary McMahon
Updated Mar 03, 2024
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Glandular tissue is tissue that is designed to secrete something. It is one of the major forms of epithelial tissue, which is the tissue that lines and covers most of the body, from the skin to the inside of the stomach. There are several different kinds, differentiated by how they function.

One type is endocrine tissue, the material found in the endocrine glands. Endocrine glands produce hormones, which are chemical messengers that travel throughout the body to mediate and control various functions. An example of an endocrine gland is the thyroid, a gland found in the neck that produces thyroid hormone. This type of glandular tissue is capable of producing secretions that can enter the bloodstream, allowing them to be distributed to many different areas inside the body.

Exocrine tissue makes secretions that are designed to travel through the tissue to the surface along tube-like structures, having an impact in the immediate surrounding area. These glands do not make chemical messengers; they produce secretions like breast milk, sweat, and mucus. For instance, the salivary glands are made up of exocrine tissue that produces saliva, an oral fluid designed to lubricate the mouth and begin the process of breaking down food. This tissue has a localized effect, in contrast with the whole-body effects produced by endocrine tissue.

Paracrine glands produce chemical signals that are sent to neighboring cells through a process of diffusion. These glands are sometimes classified as a subset of exocrine glands, and they produce and secrete growth and clotting factors.

As with other types of tissue found in the body, glandular tissue can start to grow out of control, producing cancer. This occurs when a single cell's DNA becomes disrupted and the signals that tell it to slow or stop reproducing are scrambled. The body is very adept at identifying cells that have been damaged, but sometimes it misses a cancerous cell and the cell is allowed to multiply and divide, creating a growth.

When cancer involves glandular tissue found in the endocrine glands, it can result in overproduction of the hormones that those glands make. A variety of symptoms related to hormonal imbalances can appear as the body responds to the flood of chemicals. Diagnosis and treatment of such cancers can be complicated by the hormone imbalance, and a biopsy of the suspected gland is needed to identify cancerous cells and determine where they originated.

The Health Board is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Mary McMahon
By Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a The Health Board researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

Discussion Comments

By anon262365 — On Apr 19, 2012

This was too much information in one go. It should be put under clear headings. Otherwise the rest was good!

By anon243840 — On Jan 30, 2012

This just confuses me a lot. I wanted to find out about glandular tissue and it started to talk about epithelial tissue instead, and therefore I will not be visiting this website in the future as it did not satisfy my needs.

By jamsie — On May 27, 2011

@Smokve - Your mother was right! Your sore throat more than likely was due to swollen lymph nodes under your ears or chin. This is a type of gland.

By Smokve — On May 24, 2011

My mother always used to say when I was a kid that I would have swollen glands when my throat was sore. What was she referring to?

Mary McMahon

Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a...

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