Morphological differentiation of the conjunctival goblet cells in the chick (Gallus domesticus)

Graefes Arch Clin Exp Ophthalmol. 1997 Nov;235(11):717-222. doi: 10.1007/BF01880671.


Background: These is no consensus in the literature regarding the differentiation of conjunctival goblet cells in vertebrates.

Method: The conjunctival epithelium of the chick was studied before and after hatching in order to demonstrate the morphological evolution of the goblet cells. The entire conjunctiva was processed for light microscopy either on semithin sections stained with toluidine blue-pironine or on traditional sections stained with Alcian blue pH 2.5-PAS.

Results: It was possible to demonstrate that goblet cells underwent remarkable changes in their secretory activity. At 12 h after hatching, isolated Alcian blue-positive cells were present in the fornix. At 24 h after hatching, cells positive for both Alcian blue and PAS were scattered among epithelial cells. Two days after hatching, cells which reacted positively only to PAS were also present.

Conclusion: It is suggested that the differentiation of conjunctival goblet cells occurs first in the fornix, probably due to the particular vascular environment of this region, and then spreads all over the conjunctiva.

MeSH terms

  • Alcian Blue
  • Animals
  • Cell Count
  • Cell Differentiation
  • Cell Division
  • Chick Embryo
  • Coloring Agents
  • Conjunctiva / cytology*
  • Conjunctiva / embryology
  • Conjunctiva / growth & development
  • Epithelial Cells / cytology
  • Follow-Up Studies


  • Coloring Agents
  • Alcian Blue