Cerebellar globular cells receive monoaminergic excitation and monosynaptic inhibition from Purkinje cells

PLoS One. 2012;7(1):e29663. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0029663. Epub 2012 Jan 3.


Inhibitory interneurons in the cerebellar granular layer are more heterogeneous than traditionally depicted. In contrast to Golgi cells, which are ubiquitously distributed in the granular layer, small fusiform Lugaro cells and globular cells are located underneath the Purkinje cell layer and small in number. Globular cells have not been characterized physiologically. Here, using cerebellar slices obtained from a strain of gene-manipulated mice expressing GFP specifically in GABAergic neurons, we morphologically identified globular cells, and compared their synaptic activity and monoaminergic influence of their electrical activity with those of small Golgi cells and small fusiform Lugaro cells. Globular cells were characterized by prominent IPSCs together with monosynaptic inputs from the axon collaterals of Purkinje cells, whereas small Golgi cells or small fusiform Lugaro cells displayed fewer and smaller spontaneous IPSCs. Globular cells were silent at rest and fired spike discharges in response to application of either serotonin (5-HT) or noradrenaline. The two monoamines also facilitated small Golgi cell firing, but only 5-HT elicited firing in small fusiform Lugaro cells. Furthermore, globular cells likely received excitatory monosynaptic inputs through mossy fibers. Because globular cells project their axons long in the transversal direction, the neuronal circuit that includes interplay between Purkinje cells and globular cells could regulate Purkinje cell activity in different microzones under the influence of monoamines and mossy fiber inputs, suggesting that globular cells likely play a unique modulatory role in cerebellar motor control.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Axons / metabolism
  • Biogenic Monoamines / metabolism*
  • GABAergic Neurons / cytology
  • GABAergic Neurons / metabolism
  • Inhibitory Postsynaptic Potentials*
  • Interneurons / cytology
  • Interneurons / metabolism
  • Mice
  • Purkinje Cells / cytology*
  • Purkinje Cells / metabolism
  • Purkinje Cells / physiology*
  • Synapses / metabolism
  • Synapses / physiology*


  • Biogenic Monoamines