Date Published:2014 Oct
PURPOSE OF REVIEW: Although conjunctival goblet cells are a major cell type in ocular mucosa, their responses during ocular allergy are largely unexplored. This review summarizes the recent findings that provide key insights into the mechanisms by which their function and survival are altered during chronic inflammatory responses, including ocular allergy. RECENT FINDINGS: Conjunctiva represents a major component of the ocular mucosa that harbors specialized lymphoid tissue. Exposure of mucin-secreting goblet cells to allergic and inflammatory mediators released by the local innate and adaptive immune cells modulates proliferation, secretory function, and cell survival. Allergic mediators like histamine, leukotrienes, and prostaglandins directly stimulate goblet cell mucin secretion and consistently increase goblet cell proliferation. Goblet cell mucin secretion is also detectable in a murine model of allergic conjunctivitis. Additionally, primary goblet cell cultures allow evaluation of various inflammatory cytokines with respect to changes in goblet cell mucin secretion, proliferation, and apoptosis. These findings in combination with the preclinical mouse models help understand the goblet cell responses and their modulation during chronic inflammatory diseases, including ocular allergy. SUMMARY: Recent findings related to conjunctival goblet cells provide the basis for novel therapeutic approaches, involving modulation of goblet cell mucin production, to improve treatment of ocular allergies.