What is the difference between stratified and compound epithelial cells?

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bandmanjoe | Middle School Teacher | (Level 2) Senior Educator

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Epithelial cells are cells that serve as covering tissues for the body, both internally and externally.  The term "stratified" is taken from the word "strata", which means layers or layered.  So these are epithelial cells that are arranged in two or more layers, providing covering type protection.  The skin is a good example of stratified epithelial cells, where it has an outer epidermal layer, a middle epidermal layer, and an inner, enodermal layer.  Compound epithelial cells are cells that serve more than just an outer protective covering, they are typically multilayer and serve as a cushioning effect as well.  Whereas stratified epithelial cells are classified by the shape of the top layer only, compound epithelial cells may have different shapes by which they may be classified.  The deeper the layers are, the more differentiated the shapes may become, hence, the designation of compound epithelial cells.