Conjunctival goblet cells: Ocular surface functions, disorders that affect them, and the potential for their regeneration

Ocul Surf. 2020 Jan;18(1):19-26. doi: 10.1016/j.jtos.2019.11.005. Epub 2019 Nov 14.


Conjunctival goblet cells (CGCs) are specialized cells that produce and secrete soluble mucins to the tear film that bathes the ocular surface. CGC numbers and functions are affected in various ocular surface diseases including dry eye disease with diverse etiologies. In this review we will (i) summarize the important functions of CGCs in ocular surface health, (ii) describe the ocular surface diseases that affect CGC numbers and function, (iii) provide an update on recent research outcomes that elucidate CGC differentiation, gene expression and functions, and (iv) present evidence in support of the prediction that restoring CGC numbers and/or functions is a viable strategy for alleviating ocular surface disorders that impact the CGCs.

Keywords: Conjunctiva; Cornea; Goblet cells; Ocular surface; Tear film.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Conjunctiva
  • Dry Eye Syndromes
  • Goblet Cells*
  • Humans
  • Regeneration
  • Tears