Basic Histology -- Intestinal Columnar Epithelium Next Home Back

Intestinal epithelial cells are adapted for absorption of nutrients and secretion of mucus. So they must be very tall.

The absorptive cells are protein-rich, so they stain pink. On their free edges, there is a "brush border", composed of microvilli. You cannot see the microvilli without an electron microscope, but the brush border appears as a dark pink bar on the luminal surface.

The mucus-secreting cells bulge out and compress their neighbors, so they are given the repulsive name "goblet cells", as if each one is a wineglass full of mucus. Of course, on H&E stain, mucus stains pale.

This is small intestinal mucosa.

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Kansas City University of Medicine and Biosciences