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December 1981

Goblet Cells of the Human Conjunctiva

Author Affiliations

From the Departments of Ophthalmology, University of Illinois Eye and Ear Infirmary, Chicago (Dr Greiner), Ciudad Sanitaria, "Principes De Espana," Barcelona, Spain (Dr Henriquez), and Harvard Medical School, Boston (Dr Allansmith); the Department of Cornea Research, Eye Research Institute of Retina Foundation, Boston (Drs Greiner, Henriquez, and Allansmith); the Department of Pathology, Chicago College of Osteopathic Medicine, Chicago (Dr Greiner); and the Departments of Anatomy, Ernest E. Just Laboratory of Cellular Biology, Howard University College of Medicine, Washington, DC (Mr Covington), and Medical College of Georgia, Augusta (Dr Weidman).

Arch Ophthalmol. 1981;99(12):2190-2197. doi:10.1001/archopht.1981.03930021066016

• We correlated histologic findings concerning conjunctival goblet cells with findings concerning the mucous membrane surfaces of the conjunctiva. Ten biopsy specimens were obtained from the upper tarsal conjunctiva and ten from the perilimbal bulbar conjunctiva. Changes in goblet cells just before and during secretion included changes in surface cell diameter, evagination of the apical surface of the cell membrane, decrease in the number of microvilli, and alteration in the arrangement and morphologic characteristics of microvilli. Changes seen by light and transmission electron microscopy correlated with those observed by scanning electron microscopy. Goblet cells were often associated with crypt openings; some crypts served as conduits for the secretion of mucus from underlying goblet cells. This study supports the hypothesis that crypts in the conjunctiva seen by scanning electron microscopy are often associated with goblet cells and their mucus secretion.

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