Specialized Cells and Structures of the Respiratory SystemThis is a featured page

The organs of the respiratory system extend from the nose to the lungs and are divided into the upper and lower respiratory tracts. The upper respiratory tract consists of the nose and the pharynx, or throat. The lower respiratory tract includes the larynx, or voice box; the trachea, or windpipe, which splits into two main branches called bronchi; tiny branches of the bronchi called bronchioles; and the lungs, a pair of saclike, spongy organs. The nose, pharynx, larynx, trachea, bronchi, and bronchioles conduct air to and from the lungs. The lungs interact with the circulatory system to deliver oxygen and remove carbon dioxide.


Therespiratory system is what makes us humans be able to talk, eat, breathe, laugh, and much, much more. I personallythink that therespiratorysystemis the most important system of the whole human body. With out it wewouldn'tbe able to breathe and if wearen't able to breathe then, well, were dead.

Thank you for reading this. I reallyappreciated your time.

Dr. Hudson

Dr. Hudson Structures of the Respiratory System
Nasal Passages- The flow of air from outside of the body to the lungs begins with the nose, which is divided into the left and right nasal passages. The nasal passages are lined with a membrane composed primarily of one layer of flat, closely packed cells called epithelial cells.Each epithelial cell is densely fringed with thousands of microscopic cilia, fingerlike extensions of the cells. Interspersed among the epithelial cells are goblet cells, specialized cells that produce mucus, a sticky, thick, moist fluid that coats the epithelial cells and the cilia. Numerous tiny blood vessels called capillaries lie just under the mucous membrane, near the surface of the nasal passages. While transporting air to the pharynx, the nasal passages play two critical roles: they filter the air to remove potentially disease-causing particles; and they moisten and warm the air to protect the structures in the respiratory system.

Pharynx- The pharynx is a short, funnel-shaped tube about 13 cm (5 in) long that transports air to the larynx. Like the nasal passages, the pharynx is lined with a protective mucous membrane and ciliated cells that remove impurities from the air. In addition to serving as an air passage, the pharynx houses the tonsils, lymphatic tissues that contain white blood cells. The white blood cells attack any disease-causing organisms that escape the hairs, cilia, and mucus of the nasal passages and pharynx.

Larynx- Air moves from the pharynx to the larynx, a structure about 5 cm (2 in) long located approximately in the middle of the neck. Several layers of cartilage, a tough and flexible tissue, comprise most of the larynx. While the primary role of the larynx is to transport air to the trachea, it also serves other functions. It plays a primary role in producing sound; it prevents food and fluid from entering the air passage to cause choking; and its mucous membranes and cilia-bearing cells help filter air. The cilia in the larynx waft airborne particles up toward the pharynx to be swallowed.

Tranchea- Air passes from the larynx into the trachea, a tube about 12 to 15 cm (about 5 to 6 in) long located just below the larynx. The trachea is formed of 15 to 20 C-shaped rings of cartilage. The sturdy cartilage rings hold the trachea open, enabling air to pass freely at all times. The open part of the C-shaped cartilage lies at the back of the trachea, and the ends of the “C” are connected by muscle tissue. The trachea, bronchi, and the first few bronchioles contribute to the cleansing function of the respiratory system, for they, too, are lined with mucous membranes and ciliated cells that move mucus upward to the pharynx.

Alveoli- The bronchioles divide many more times in the lungs to create an impressive tree with smaller and smaller branches, some no larger than 0.5 mm (0.02 in) in diameter. These branches dead-end into tiny air sacs called alveoli. The alveoli deliver oxygen to the circulatory system and remove carbon dioxide. Interspersed among the alveoli are numerous macrophages, large white blood cells that patrol the alveoli and remove foreign substances that have not been filtered out earlier. Alveoli are arranged in grapelike clusters, and each cluster is surrounded by a dense hairnet of tiny, thin-walled capillaries. The alveoli and capillaries are arranged in such a way that air in the wall of the alveoli is only about 0.1 to 0.2 microns from the blood in the capillary. Since the concentration of oxygen is much higher in the alveoli than in the capillaries, the oxygen diffuses from the alveoli to the capillaries. The oxygen flows through the capillaries to larger vessels, which carry the oxygenated blood to the heart, where it is pumped to the rest of the body.

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