<< Back to glossary index


The basic structural and functional unit of living things. In animals, cells are enclosed by a membrane within which is the cytoplasm that contains cellular organelles, including the nucleus.

Use in clinical context

Cells must function correctly to maintain the health of an individual. Both the function and the structure of each cell is determined by the DNA within the nucleus combined with the cell’s environment (e.g. is it a bone cell or a gut cell – both contain the same DNA, but have different environments). Changes to the DNA of a cell can affect cellular structure and function.

Last updated on 24th May, 2019