The mesothelium is a membrane that forms the lining of several body cavities: the pleura (thoracic cavity), peritoneum (abdominal cavity including the mesentery) and pericardium (heart sac). Mesothelial tissue also surrounds the male internal reproductive organs (the tunica vaginalis testis) and covers the internal reproductive organs of women (the tunica serosa uteri). Mesothelium that covers the internal organs is called visceral mesothelium, while the layer that covers the body walls is called the parietal mesothelium.
The mesothelium is composed of an extensive monolayer of specialized cells (mesothelial cells) that line the body's serous cavities and internal organs. The main purpose of these cells is to produce a lubricating fluid that is released between layers, providing a slippery, non-adhesive, and protective surface to facilitate intracoelomic movement.The mesothelium is also involved in the transport and movement of fluid and particulate matter across the serosal cavities, leukocyte migration in response to inflammatory mediators, synthesis of pro-inflammatory cytokines, growth factors, and extracellular matrix proteins to aid in serosal repair, and the release of factors to promote the disposition and clearance of fibrin (such as plasminogen). Mesothelial cells are capable of phagocytosis and are antigen presenting cells. Furthermore, the secretion of glycosaminoglycans and lubricants may protect the body against infection and tumor dissemination.
The meninges is the system of membranes which envelops the central nervous system. In mammals, the meninges consist of three layers: the dura mater, the arachnoid mater, and the pia mater (Figure 1). The primary function of the meninges and the cerebrospinal fluid is to protect the central nervous system.
The dura mater
The dura mater is a thick, durable membrane, closest to the skull. It consists of two layers, the periosteal layer which lies closest to the calvaria (skull), and the inner meningeal layer which lies closer to the brain. It contains larger blood vessels which split into the capillaries in the pia mater. The dura mater is composed of dense fibrous tissue, and its inner surface is covered by flattened cells like those present on the surfaces of the pia mater and arachnoid mater. The dura mater is a sac which envelops the arachnoid and has been modified to serve several functions. The dura mater surrounds and supports the large venous channels (dural sinuses) carrying blood from the brain toward the heart.
The arachnoid mater
The middle element of the meninges is the arachnoid mater, so named because of its spider web-like appearance. It provides a cushioning effect for the central nervous system. The arachnoid mater is a thin, transparent membrane. It is composed of fibrous tissue and, like the pia mater, is covered by flat cells also thought to be impermeable to fluid. The arachnoid mater does not follow the convolutions of the surface of the brain and so looks like a loosely fitting sac. In the region of the brain, particularly, a large number of fine filaments called arachnoid trabeculae pass from the arachnoid through the subarachnoid space to blend with the tissue of the pia mater.
The pia mater
The pia mater is a very delicate membrane. It is the meningeal envelope which firmly adheres to the surface of the brain and spinal cord, following the brain's minor contours (gyri and sulci). It is a very thin membrane composed of fibrous tissue covered on its outer surface by a sheet of flat cells thought to be impermeable to fluid. The pia mater is pierced by blood vessels which travel to the brain and spinal cord, and its capillaries are responsible for nourishing the brain.
The peritoneum is the serous membrane that forms the lining of the abdominal cavity or the coelom—it covers most of the intra-abdominal (or coelomic) organs—in amniotes and some invertebrates (annelids, for instance). It is composed of a layer of mesothelium supported by a thin layer of connective tissue. The peritoneum both supports the abdominal organs and serves as a conduit for their blood and lymph vessels and nerves.The abdominal cavity (the space bounded by the vertebrae, abdominal muscles, diaphragm and pelvic floor) should not be confused with the intraperitoneal space (located within the abdominal cavity, but wrapped in peritoneum). The structures within the intraperitoneal space are called "intraperitoneal" (e.g. the stomach), the structures in the abdominal cavity that are located behind the intraperitoneal space are called "retroperitoneal" (e.g. the kidneys), and those structures below the intraperitoneal space are called "subperitoneal" or "infraperitoneal" (e.g. the bladder).