Unipolar brush cells--a new type of excitatory interneuron in the cerebellar cortex and cochlear nuclei of the brainstem

Neurosci Behav Physiol. 2005 Jan;35(1):21-36. doi: 10.1023/b:neab.0000049648.20702.ad.


Published data and the authors' own studies on the morphology, neurochemical specialization, and spatial organization of unipolar brush neurons (UBN) in the cerebellar cortex and cochlear nuclei of the brainstem are reviewed. UBN represent an exclusive category of excitatory interneurons, with a single dendrite which forms a compact branching with a shape reminiscent of that of a brush in its terminal segment. These cells are characterized by an uneven distribution in the granular layer of the cerebellum, being located mainly in its vestibular zones. UBN synthesize glutamate, calretinin, and metabotropic and ionotropic glutamate receptors. The dendritic brush of UBN form giant synapses with the rosettes of glutamatergic and cholinergic mossy afferent fibers. UBN axons form an intracortical system of mossy fibers which, forming rosettes and glomeruli, make contact with the dendrites of other UBN and granule cells. In the circuits of interneuronal communications, UBN can be regarded as an intermediate component, amplifying the excitatory effects of mossy afferent fibers on granule cells in the cerebellar cortex and cochlear nuclei of the brainstem.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Calbindin 2
  • Cell Count
  • Cell Shape
  • Cell Size
  • Cerebellar Cortex / cytology*
  • Cochlear Nucleus / cytology*
  • Humans
  • Interneurons / classification*
  • Interneurons / metabolism
  • Interneurons / ultrastructure
  • Models, Neurological
  • NADP / metabolism
  • S100 Calcium Binding Protein G / metabolism
  • Synapses / ultrastructure


  • CALB2 protein, human
  • Calbindin 2
  • S100 Calcium Binding Protein G
  • NADP