The respiratory epithelium is a tissue that lines the respiratory system. The respiratory epithelium serves as a protective barrier and also provides moisture. Ciliated cells, basal cells, and goblet cells are three main types of cells that make up the respiratory epithelium. The structure and function of each cell type is briefly described below.
- The ciliated cells are found along the trachea and bronchi. The ciliated cells are column-shaped and have cilia on their edges. The cilia move in a rhythmic motion that helps to keep the airway clean.
- The basal cells of the respiratory epithelium are small and cuboidal. These cells are thought to be able to differentiate into other cell type upon injury of the airway in order to restore the epithelial cell layer.
Goblet cells of the respiratory epithelium are shaped like a columnar wine goblet, hence the name. They secrete mucous in order to trap debris and pathogens. In this way, goblet cells help keep the respiratory system healthy.
Additionally, alveolar cells are found in the epithelium of the respiratory system’s alveoli. These cells conduct gas exchange with the bloodstream so that oxygen can be delivered to cells throughout an organism.