Neural control of goblet cell secretion in guinea pig airways

K. Tokuyama, H. P. Kuo, J. A.L. Rohde, P. J. Barnes, D. F. Rogers

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

104 Citations (Scopus)


We studied the neural control of goblet cell secretion in the lower airways of anesthetized guinea pigs using a semiquantitative morphometric technique. The magnitude of discharge of intracellular mucus was determined in histological sections of the trachea and main bronchi stained for mucus glycoproteins. Bilateral electrical stimulation of the cervical vagus nerves induced goblet cell secretion. The magnitude of the effect was dependent on the frequency, voltage, and pulse width of the stimulus, and the duration of stimulation. At 10 Hz, 5 V, and 5 ms for 3 min, there was a 62% decrease in the amount of intracellular mucus below that with sham stimulation. The secretion was blocked either by atropine or by pretreatment with capsaicin but was not significantly inhibited by idazoxan, an α-adrenoceptor antagonist. The magnitude of goblet cell discharge in animals pretreated with propranolol was intermediate between that in controls and that with nerve stimultion, although not significant to either. These results demonstrate that goblet cell secretion is under neural control in guinea pig airways and suggest that cholinergic, nonadrenergic-noncholinergic, and possibly adrenergic neural pathways, may contribute to the secretion.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)L108-L115
JournalAmerican Journal of Physiology - Lung Cellular and Molecular Physiology
Issue number2 3-1
Publication statusPublished - Jan 1 1990
Externally publishedYes


  • Adrenergic fibers
  • Cholinergic fibers
  • Mucous cell
  • Mucus
  • Mucus secretion
  • Neural inhibition
  • Neural pathways
  • Neuropeptides
  • respiratory tract fluid

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology
  • Pulmonary and Respiratory Medicine
  • Physiology (medical)
  • Cell Biology


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