Goblet cell density and distribution in cats with clinically and histologically normal conjunctiva

Lionel Sebbag, Christopher M. Reilly, Ramzi Eid, David J Maggs

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Scopus citations


Objective: The aim of this study was to evaluate goblet cell density (GCD) and distribution in cats without clinical evidence of ocular surface disease and without histologic evidence of conjunctival disease. Animals studied: Fourteen Domestic Shorthair cats euthanized for reasons unrelated to this study. Procedures: Before euthanasia, cats were verified using slit-lamp biomicroscopy and fluorescein staining to be free of eyelid or ocular surface abnormalities. Immediately after euthanasia, bilateral conjunctival specimens including third eyelid (TEL) were collected, routinely processed, and stained with periodic acid-Schiff and hematoxylin and eosin. Thirteen conjunctival regions were identified. For each region, GCD was expressed as the percentage of goblet cells/200 basal epithelial cells. Results: Mean GCD ranged widely by region: anterior surface of the TEL = 48.8%, fornicial regions = 47.0%, palpebral regions = 38.5%, bulbar regions = 19.6%, and posterior surface of the TEL = 12.6%. The anterior surface of the TEL had significantly higher GCD than did the bulbar and the palpebral regions, but not the fornicial regions. Bulbar conjunctiva had significantly lower GCD than did all other conjunctival regions except the posterior surface of the TEL. No significant difference was noted between GCD of male versus female cats, dorsal versus ventral regions, or lateral versus medial regions. Conclusions: Although conjunctival GCD ranged widely by region, the anterior surface of the TEL appears to be an excellent location for assessing conjunctival goblet cells in cats because this area has high GCD and is more readily accessible than is the palpebral, fornicial, or bulbar conjunctiva.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalVeterinary Ophthalmology
StateAccepted/In press - 2016


  • Cat
  • Conjunctiva
  • Goblet cell
  • Third eyelid

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • veterinary(all)


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