Pathology of the Gastrointestinal Tract

2017 Edition
| Editors: Fátima Carneiro, Paula Chaves, Arzu Ensari

Goblet Cells

  • Chella R. S. van der PostEmail author
  • Fátima Carneiro
Reference work entry


Mucus-producing cell


The number of goblet cells increases with distal progression along the bowel, from duodenum 4% to distal colon 16%, where they are most abundant in the sigmoid colon and rectum. Reflecting a dominant function in absorption and antigen processing, the right colon displays a higher colonocyte to goblet cell ratio (5:1) as compared to the left colon. Proceeding distally an increase in goblet cells are apparent, facilitating increased formation of gel-type mucin in the descending and sigmoid colon necessary for consolidation and transit of the increasingly formed fecal matter. Their broad shape creates the false impression that they constitute the majority of the cells; however, in the sigmoid colon and rectum, the ratio is approximately one goblet cell for every four columnar cells.

Goblet cells are also found in other epithelia and they are a normal component of the conjunctiva, respiratory epithelium of the nose and larynx, and in the bronchial...

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References and Further Reading

  1. Filipe, M. I. (1979). Mucins in the human gastrointestinal epithelium: A review. Investigative & Cell Pathology, 2(3), 195–216.Google Scholar
  2. Goldman, H., & Ming, S. C. (1968). Mucins in normal and neoplastic gastrointestinal epithelium. Histochemical distribution. Archives of Pathology, 85(6), 580–586.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  3. Jass, J. R., & Filipe, M. I. (1981). The mucin profiles of normal gastric mucosa, intestinal metaplasia and its variants and gastric carcinoma. The Histochemical Journal, 13(6), 931–939.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  4. Kim, Y. S., & Ho, S. B. (2010). Intestinal goblet cells and mucins in health and disease: Recent insights and progress. Current Gastroenterology Reports, 12(5), 319–330.PubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  5. Odze, R. D. (2005). Unraveling the mystery of the gastroesophageal junction: A pathologist’s perspective. The American Journal of Gastroenterology, 100(8), 1853–1867.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  6. Silva, E., Teixeira, A., David, L., Carneiro, F., Reis, C. A., Sobrinho-Simoes, J., et al. (2002). Mucins as key molecules for the classification of intestinal metaplasia of the stomach. Virchows Archiv, 440(3), 311–317.PubMedGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  • Chella R. S. van der Post
    • 1
    Email author
  • Fátima Carneiro
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of PathologyRadboud University Medical CenterNijmegenThe Netherlands
  2. 2.Faculty of Medicine of Porto University, Centro Hospitalar São João and Ipatimup/i3SPortoPortugal