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Glutamic acid decarboxylase immunoreactive large neuron types in the granular layer of the human cerebellar cortex


‘Non-traditional’ large neurons of the granular layer of the cerebellar cortex include all its large neuronal types, except the Golgi neuron, which is instead one of the five ‘classic’ types of corticocerebellar neurons. The morphological, chemical and functional characteristics of the ‘non-traditional’ large neurons have not been entirely ascertained. The aim of this study was to ascertain whether morphological evidence can be provided of GABA synthesis within the ‘non-traditional’ large neurons of the human cerebellar cortex by means of immunocytochemistry for glutamic acid decarboxylase (GAD). Fragments of postmortem cerebellar cortex of various lobules from the hemispheres and vermis were studied. Immunoreactions revealed large neurons distributed throughout the granular layer in all lobules examined. They were discriminated by analyzing the morphological features of their bodies and processes and were identified as Golgi neurons and as some ‘non-traditional’ types, such as the candelabrum, Lugaro and synarmotic neurons. In addition, immunoreactive large neurons, with their bodies and processes closely adjacent to microvessels, were observed throughout the layer: these perivascular neurons could represent a new type of ‘non-traditional’ neuron of the cerebellar cortex. This study supplies the first indication that in the human cerebellar cortex some types of ‘non-traditional’ large neurons are GAD-immunoreactive, in addition to those neurons already known to be GABAergic (i.e., stellate, basket, Purkinje and Golgi neurons). These morphological data further point out possible functional roles for GABA as a neurotransmitter/neuromodulator in intrinsic, associative and projective circuits of the cerebellar cortex.

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The authors are grateful to Ms. Mary Victoria Pragnell B.A., for linguistic help, and Mr. Francesco Fumai, for technical assistance. This work was supported by grants from the University of Bari to G. Ambrosi.

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Correspondence to G. Ambrosi.

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To our Master, Professor Rodolfo Amprino, with our great admiration, gratefulness and affection, on the occasion of his ninety-second birthday

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Flace, P., Benagiano, V., Lorusso, L. et al. Glutamic acid decarboxylase immunoreactive large neuron types in the granular layer of the human cerebellar cortex. Anat Embryol 208, 55–64 (2004). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00429-003-0374-x

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  • Cerebellum
  • Non-traditional neurons
  • Immunocytochemistry
  • GABA
  • Microvessel nervous regulation