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Goblet cell

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Title: Goblet cell  
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Subject: G cell, Paneth cell, Alveolar cells, Enterocyte, Parietal cell
Collection: Epithelial Cells, Human Cells, Mucus Secreting Cells
Publisher: World Heritage Encyclopedia

Goblet cell

Goblet cell
Schematic illustration of a goblet cell in close up, illustrating different internal structures of the cell.
Transverse section of a villus, from the human intestine. X 350.
a. Basement membrane, here somewhat shrunken away from the epithelium.
b. Lacteal.
c. Columnar epithelium.
d. Its striated border.
e. Goblet cells.
f. Leucocytes in epithelium.
f’. Leucocytes below epithelium.
g. Blood vessels.
h. Muscle cells cut across.
Latin exocrimohsinocytus caliciformis
Code TH H3.;
Anatomical terminology

A goblet cell is a glandular, modified simple columnar epithelial cell whose function is to secrete gel-forming mucins, the major components of mucus. The goblet cells mainly use the merocrine method of secretion, secreting vesicles into a duct, but may use apocrine methods, budding off their secretions, when under stress.[1]

The goblet cell is highly polarised with the secretory granules containing mucin. The goblet shape is due to the mucus laden granules in the apical part expanding, causing that part of the cell to balloon. The apical plasma membrane projects microvilli to give an increased surface area for secretion.


  • Structure 1
    • Histology 1.1
  • Function 2
    • Role in oral tolerance 2.1
  • Clinical significance 3
  • History 4
    • Etymology 4.1
  • References 5
  • External links 6


Goblet cells are found scattered among the intestinal and respiratory tracts.[2] They are found inside the trachea, bronchi, and larger bronchioles in the respiratory tract, small intestines, the large intestine, and conjunctiva in the upper eyelid. Goblet cells are a source of mucus in tears and secrete different types of mucins onto the ocular surface, especially in the conjunctiva. In the lacrimal glands, mucus is synthetized by acinar cells instead.[3]


Goblet cells are modified simple columnar epithelial cells, having a height of four times that of their width. The cytoplasm of goblet cells tends to be displaced toward the basal end of the cell body by the large mucin granules, which accumulate near the apical surface of the cell along the Golgi apparatus, which lies between the granules and the nucleus. This gives the basal part of the cell a basophilic staining because of nucleic acids within the nucleus and rough endoplasmic reticulum staining with hematoxylin. Mucin within the granules stains pale in routine histology sections, primarily because these carbohydrate-rich proteins are washed out in the preparation of microscopy samples. However, they stain easily with the PAS staining method, which colours them magenta.[4][5]

In mucicarmine stains, deep red mucin is found within goblet cell bodies. Goblet cells can be seen in the examples below as the larger, more pale cells.


The main role of goblet cells is to secrete

  • Goblet Cells at

External links

  1. ^ Lohmann-Matthes, M-L.; Steinmüller, C.; Franke-Ullmann, G. (1994). "Pulmonary macrophages". European Respiratory Journal 7 (9): 1678–1689.  
  2. ^ "goblet cell" at Dorland's Medical Dictionary
  3. ^ Guzman-Aranguez, A; Argüeso, P (2010). "Structure and biological roles of mucin-type O-glycans at the ocular surface.". The Ocular Surface 8 (1): 8–17.  
  4. ^ Ross M, Pawlina W (2011). Histology: A Text and Atlas (6th ed.). Lippincott Williams & Wilkins. p. 592–593.  
  5. ^ Young B, Woodford P, O'Dowd G (2013). Wheater's Functional Histology: A Text and Colour Atlas (6th ed.). Elsevier. p. 94.  
  6. ^ a b Johansson ME, Sjövall H, Hansson GC (2013). "The gastrointestinal mucus system in health and disease". Nature Reviews. Gastroenterology & Hepatology 10 (6): 352–361.  
  7. ^ Johansson ME, Hansson GC (2013). "Mucus and the Goblet Cell". Digestive Diseases 31: 305–309.  
  8. ^ a b Rubin BK (2013). "Secretion properties, clearance, and therapy in airway disease.". Translational respiratory medicine 2 (6).  
  9. ^ a b McDole; et al. (2012). "Goblet cells deliver luminal antigen to CD103+ dendritic cells in the small intestine". Nature 483 (7389): 345–349.  
  10. ^ a b Holt, N; Grønbæk, H (2013). "Goblet cell carcinoids of the appendix.". The Scientific World Journal 2013: 543696.  
  11. ^ McCusker, ME; Coté, TR; Clegg, LX; Sobin, LH (2002). "Primary malignant neoplasms of the appendix: a population-based study from the surveillance, epidemiology and end-results program, 1973-1998.". Cancer 94 (12): 3307–12.  
  12. ^ Fouad, YM; Mostafa, I; Yehia, R; El-Khayat, H (2014). "Biomarkers of Barrett's esophagus.". World Journal of Gastrointestinal Pathophysiology 5 (4): 450–456.  
  13. ^ Histology image:11303loa from Vaughan, Deborah (2002). A Learning System in Histology: CD-ROM and Guide.   - Digestive System: Alimentary Canal: fundic stomach, gastric glands, lumen"


There are other cells that secrete mucus (such as the foveolar cells of the stomach)[13] but these are distinguished histologically from goblet cells.

The term goblet refers to the cell's goblet-like shape. The apical portion is shaped like a cup, as it is distended by abundant mucinogen granules; its basal portion is shaped like a stem, as it is narrow for lack of these granules.



Goblet cells may be an indication of metaplasia, such as in Barrett's esophagus.[12]

Goblet cell carcinoids are a class of rare tumors that form as a result of an excessive proliferation of both goblet and neuroendocrine cells. The majority of these tumors arise in the appendix and may present symptoms similar to the much more common acute appendicitis.[10] The main treatment for localized goblet cells tumors is removal of the appendix, and sometimes removal of the right hemicolon is also performed.[11] Disseminated tumors may require treatment with chemotherapy in addition to surgery.[10]

Clinical significance

Oral tolerance is the process by which the immune system is prevented from responding to antigen derived from food products, as peptides from food may pass into the bloodstream via the gut, which would in theory lead to an immune response. A paper published in Nature in 2012 has shed some light on the process and implicated goblet cells as having a role in the process.[9] It was known that CD103-expressing dendritic cells of the lamina propria had a role to play in the induction of oral tolerance (potentially by inducing the differentiation of regulatory T cells), and this paper suggests that the goblet cells act to preferentially deliver antigen to these CD103+ dendritic cells.[9]

Role in oral tolerance

such as viruses and bacteria. microbes Other stimuli are [8].airway, especially in the smoke and dust Secretion may be stimulated by irritants such as [6]

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