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Goblet cell
Section of mucus membrane of human stomach, near the cardiac orifice. X 45.
c. Cardiac glands.
d. Their ducts.
cr. Gland similar to the intestinal glands, with goblet cells.
mm. Mucous membrane.
m. Muscularis mucosae.
m’. Muscular tissue within the mucous membrane.
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. Bloodvessels.
h. Muscle cells cut across.

Goblet cells are glandular simple columnar epithelial cells whose sole function is to secrete mucus. They use both apocrine and merocrine methods for secretion.

The majority of the cell's cytoplasm is occupied by mucinogen granules, except at the bottom. Rough endoplasmic reticulum, mitochondria, the nucleus, and other organelles are concentrated in the basal portion. The apical plasma membrane projects microvilli to increase surface area for secretion.



They are found scattered among the epithelial lining of organs, such as the intestinal and respiratory tracts.[1] They are found inside the trachea, bronchus, and larger bronchioles in respiratory tract, small intestines and the colon.

They may be an indication of metaplasia, such as in Barrett's esophagus.


In mucicarmine stains, deep red mucin found within goblet cell bodies.

The nuclei of goblet cells tend to be displaced toward the basal end of the cell body,leads to intense basophilic staining.


The term goblet refers to these cells' 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.

There are other cells which secrete mucus (as in the fundic glands of the stomach[2]), but they are not usually called "goblet cells" because they do not have this distinctive shape.

Basal secretion

This is the normal base level secretion of mucus which is accomplished by cytoskeletal movement of secretory granules.

Stimulated secretion

Secretion may be stimulated by dust, smoke, etc.

Other stimuli include viruses, bacteria, etc.

Additional images


  1. ^ goblet cell at Dorland's Medical Dictionary
  2. ^ Histology at BU 11303loa - Digestive System: Alimentary Canal: fundic stomach, gastric glands, lumen"

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