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Specialized Cells – Definition, Types and Examples

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specialized cells and their functions
 John Luther   Published On Aug 20, 2020 | Updated on Nov 28, 2023  Assignment  0

A cell is a basic unit of life. Our body is made up of various types of microcells that are specialized for unique functionalities. Here, we will learn about the specialized cells, the types, and examples of specialized cells.

What Are Specialized Cells?

The human body is a fantastic work of art that includes several nerve fibers, blood vessels, organs, a skeleton framework, and a protective outer covering. Each of these involves a unique type of component – the cell.

Human bodies comprise 200 (or more) types of specialized cells. But what are these specialized cells? Cells that perform specific functions are called specialized cells. Going by the definition, each of these cells has special features which allow these cells to operate differently and carry out the intended functions. For instance, muscle cells are held together in a bundle, which pull together to make muscles move.

List of Specialized Cells

Specialized cells combine to form tissues which then form organs. Organs come together to create the systems which then come together to form the human body. It quite makes sense to think that every cell would be different than the other. The list of specialized cells consists of four basic types of specialized cells.

  • Nerve Cells
  • Blood Cells
  • Muscle Cells
  • Sperm Cells

Each of the specialized cells has a definite role. Let's now learn about the types of specialized cells in-depth and the features which are responsible for the functioning of these specialized cells.

Examples of Specialized Cells and Their Functions

Specialized cells are building blocks of life that work in harmony to carry out necessary functioning. We will now look into the examples of specialized cells and their unique functions for completing complex and specialized tasks of the human body.

Nerve Cells:

Nerve cells, also called neurons, are specialized cells that form a rope-like structure that sends and carry messages through an electrical impulse.

  • These specialized nerve cellsare thin, and more than 1 meter long and have extensions called dendrites and axons, that help carry out communicative functions from one neuron to another.
  • Some specialized these cells also contain chemicals for electrochemical communication and have a fatty (myelin) sheath, which increases the travel speed of the messages.

Glia is the supporting specialized nerve cell, which plays a crucial role in helping the brain, spinal cord, and other nerves to communicate properly. Some of the glial cells produce myelin, a wax-like component, which insulates the neurons for better communication.

Blood Cells:

Our circulatory system consists of three types of specialized blood cells – red blood cells, white blood cells, and platelets. It is the unique example of how specialized cells carry out specific function within cells that already perform unique features within a particular system of your body.

Red blood cells:

These red, flat, bi-concave specialized cells are responsible for carrying oxygen throughout the body. These cells have hemoglobin, a protein that binds oxygen from the air and releases it to the tissues that need it.

White blood cells:

White blood cell, also known as Leukocytes is the critical component of the immune system. These specialized cells contain various enzymes, compounds, and other elements which identify the harmful pathogens in your body and destroy them to keep you safe from the detrimental effects.

Unlike red blood cells, white blood cells have five variations. The list of specialized white blood cells includes:

  • Neutrophils
  • Lymphocytes
  • Monocytes
  • Basophils
  • Eosinophils
  • Platelets


Another component of blood is the platelets or Thrombocytes. Platelets are the smallest specialized cell type in your blood which plays a vital role in clot formation. Once the platelets sense damage, they clump together and form blood clots to stop the bleeding. The fibrin in the lump gives new tissue a base to grow on.

Muscle Cells:

Muscle cells make movement possible in your body. These specialized cylindrical cells are made of banded fibers that allow contraction and help the human body to carry out movement-based tasks. There are three major types of muscles cells:

  • First, there are skeletal muscles cells which are joined to bones and make the bones move, and joints bend. These cells can be voluntarily controlled by the brain, meaning your brain sends a signal to correspond with the movement.
  • Next, you’ve got cardiac muscle cells to make your heart contract rhythmically to pump blood through the body. These specialized cellsare branched and joined together to form a net.
  • Finally comes to smooth muscle cells which make up the linings of the blood vessels and some organs, like your stomach. These cells play a crucial role in helping your organs move. Both cardiac and smooth muscles are unaffected by voluntary actions.

Sperm Cells:

Specialized sperm cells are gametes produced in the testicular organ of male humans. The sperm cells carry a total of 23 chromosomes and crucial for human reproduction. As these cells are highly mobile, the mitochondria within the cells provide high energy to help the specialized cells of this type to move at a faster speed.

Learn More about Specialized Cells from Biologists at

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