Goblet Cells: Goblet cells are a type of intestinal mucosal epithelial cell, which serves as the primary site for nutrient digestion and mucosal absorption. The primary function of goblet cell is to synthesize and secrete mucus. As the primary secretory cell in the superficial epithelium of large airways, goblet cells secrete mucin glycoproteins, the major macromolecular components of mucus. Different types of goblet cell can be identified based on location and function.
- Goblet cell secrete mucus – mucous glands
- Their product is packed in vesicles inside the cell, and released by exocytosis – merocrine glands
- They release their product on the surface of epithelium rather than in blood – exocrine glands
Goblet cell are mostly found scattered in the epithelia of the small intestines and respiratory tract. The morphology of goblet cell reflects their function, with the cell containing all the organelles necessary for the production of glycosylated proteins called mucins.
Functions of Goblet Cells
In the small and large intestines, goblet cell are dispersed between enterocytes. Their main function here is to produce mucus which protects and lubricates the surface of the intestines. In the respiratory tract, besides protecting the epithelial surface, mucus traps harming particles inhaled with air to protect the airway.
Goblet cells produce small amounts of mucus continually, which is known as basal (constitutive) secretion. Mucus production significantly increases when the epithelium is irritated, for example, by inhaling smoke. This kind of triggered secretion is called stimulated secretion.
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