Gastric mucosa, surface mucous cells
This image shows a thin plastic section (i.e., embedded in plastic rather than paraffin and sliced at 2µm thickness vs. 5-6 µm for routine sections) of the stomach's surface epithelium.
The protective cells which line the surface and gastric pits of the stomach are called surface mucous cells. Their appearance is rather different from that other mucous cells -- their nuclei are less-compressed basally and their apical mucus (m) droplet shows some affinity for standard stains. These differences presumably reflect the fact that the mucus secreted by these cells must have a special composition to resist attack by digestive acid and enzymes.
Individual surface mucous cells also differ in shape from intestinal goblet cells. Since the mucosal surface of the stomach consists of these cells and no others, individual surface mucous cells cannot bulge apically like the goblet cells.
Contrast the thin-section appearance of these surface mucous cells with that of other secretory epithelial cells in the gastric mucosa:
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Last updated: 8 February 2002 / dgk