Goblet cells (GCs) are specialized epithelial cells that line multiple mucosal surfaces and have a well-appreciated role in barrier maintenance through the secretion of mucus. Moreover, GCs secrete anti-microbial proteins, chemokines, and cytokines demonstrating functions in innate immunity beyond barrier maintenance. Recently it was appreciated that GCs can form goblet cell-associated antigen passages (GAPs) and deliver luminal substances to underlying lamina propria (LP) antigen-presenting cells (APCs) in a manner capable of inducing adaptive immune responses. GCs at other mucosal surfaces share characteristics with the GAP forming intestinal GCs, suggesting that GAP formation may not be restricted to the gut, and that GCs may perform this gatekeeper function at other mucosal surfaces. Here we review observations of how GCs contribute to immunity at mucosal surfaces through barrier maintenance, the delivery of luminal substances to APCs, interactions with APCs, and secretion of factors modulating immune responses.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Immunology and Allergy