The goblet cell and Clara cell populations of human distal airway epithelium were examined. The bronchioles, terminal bronchioles, and respiratory bronchioles of 16 smokers and four non-smokers were studied by both light and electron microscopy in surgically resected specimens. A very significantly (p < 0.001) greater number of goblet cells were found in the bronchioles of smokers compared than in those of non-smokers but no such difference was evident in terminal/respiratory bronchioles. Clara cell numbers in contrast were lower in the bronchioles (p < 0.01) and terminal and respiratory bronchioles of smokers (p < 0.01). Both of these alterations in cell frequency may adversely affect small airway function in smokers.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Pulmonary and Respiratory Medicine