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J Invest Dermatol. 2003 Jul;121(1):28-36.

Human glands of Moll: histochemical and ultrastructural characterization of the glands of Moll in the human eyelid.

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1
Anatomical Institute, Chair 2, University of Munich, Germany. mstoecke@anat.med.uni-muenchen.de

Abstract

The function of the human gland of Moll of the eyelid is not exactly known. We studied the secretory and cytoskeletal components of these apocrine glands in males and females by immunohistochemical methods, and the ultrastructural organization of the glandular cells with an electron microscope. The glands of Moll are exclusively located at the margin of the eyelids and their ducts empty into the lash follicle. Immunohistochemical staining for actin and cytokeratins CK19 and CK7 points to the involvement of actin in the pinching-off mechanism of the apical cell protrusion during apocrine secretion and to a stabilizing role for the cytokeratins in this apical region of the glandular cells. The presence of the bacteriolytic enzyme lysozyme, the membrane-associated mucin 1, and the immunoglobulin A and its secretory component within the gland suggest a function in local immune defense. The presence of a variety of sugar components in the secretory product was verified by lectin histochemistry and periodic acid Schiff and Alcian blue stain. We suppose that these apocrine glands are active from birth in producing agents against pathogenic microorganisms in the eyelid shaft and on the ocular surface.

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