Ultrastructure of goblet-cell metaplasia from Clara cell in the allergic asthmatic airway inflammation in a mouse model of asthma in vivo

Virchows Arch. 2004 Jan;444(1):66-73. doi: 10.1007/s00428-003-0926-8. Epub 2003 Nov 25.


Mucus overproduction from goblet cells, a characteristic feature of the allergic asthmatic inflammation induced by ovalbumin (OVA) in mice, was examined morphologically. In OVA-untreated (normal) mice, there were no goblet cells in intrapulmonary bronchus and bronchiole. However, goblet cells with or without hyperplasia in the mucosa of inflamed bronchus-bronchiole were recognized in the allergic asthmatic mice. The non-ciliated epithelium containing electron lucent granules (mucus) showed many similarities to Clara cells, which have characteristic secretory granules and many mitochondria, except for the less-developed smooth endoplasmic reticulum seen in normal mice. Ciliated Clara cells with or without mucus were rarely recognized. In addition, mucus was found in neither ciliated nor basal epithelium. The present study suggests that goblet-cell metaplasia in the bronchus and bronchiole of inflamed mucosa may be derived, at least in part, from Clara cells.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Asthma / immunology
  • Asthma / pathology*
  • Bronchi / pathology
  • Disease Models, Animal
  • Endoplasmic Reticulum, Smooth / pathology
  • Female
  • Goblet Cells / pathology*
  • Metaplasia
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred DBA
  • Microscopy, Electron
  • Mitochondria / pathology
  • Mucous Membrane / pathology
  • Ovalbumin / immunology
  • Secretory Vesicles / pathology


  • Ovalbumin