Located in the submucosa of cartilage-containing airways and in the lamina propria of the trachea are glands that secrete mucus into the airway lumen . Each mucous gland consists of four regions: the ciliated duct, collecting duct, mucous tubules, and secretory tubules . The ciliated duct opens to the lumen of the airways and is lined by ciliated epithelial cells. It merges with the collecting duct, the walls of which comprise columnar cells. Mucous cells line the mucous tubules that lead from the collecting duct. Serous cells (which contribute to the more liquid component of mucus) line the blind-ended serous tubules that are located at the distal ends of the mucous tubules. Several secretory tubules feed into the collecting duct. Mucus is secreted via the collecting and ciliated ducts into the lumen of the airways. Goblet cells, located in the epithelium of the larger central airways, secrete mucus directly into the airway lumen . The number and/or size of mucous glands and goblet cells increases in disease states, such as chronic bronchitis [8,19], leading to conditions of mucus hypersecretion.
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