The length of parallel fibers in the cat cerebellar cortex. An experimental light and electron microscopic study

Exp Brain Res. 1976 Aug 27;26(1):39-58. doi: 10.1007/BF00235248.


Experimental light and electron microscopic studies were carried out to determine the length of parallel fibers in the cat cerebellar cortex. Using a fine surgical knife, vermal and hemispheral folia were cut perpendicular to their long axis. The animals were sacrificed 1-10 days after the operation. Sections of the transected folia were then stained with a Fink-Heimer procedure. The resulting degeneration appeared as fine dots that extended lateral to the lesion, as predictable from the course of the parallel fibers. Densitometer readings indicate that the density of degeneration declines gradually lateral to the lesion. The specificity of the silver impregnation was checked by processing silver stained sections for electron microscopy. This confirmed the location of the silver precipitate on degenerating parallel fibers. The pattern of parallel fiber degeneration in the molecular layer has a trapezoidal configuration centered on the lesion. The shorter parallel fibers are located at the base of the molecular layer and extend for 5 mm. The parallel fibers become progressively longer as they approach the pial surface where they attain a maximum length of 7 mm. Our studies suggest that in folia longer than 7 mm parallel fibers are 6 mm long on the average. In addition, it was determined on Golgi sections that the average center-to-center distance between en passant boutons of individual parallel fibers is 5.2 mum. The data indicate that an average parallel fiber, 6 mm long, forming approximately 1100 boutons, may synapse with each Purkinje dendritic tree it traverses.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cats
  • Cerebellar Cortex / anatomy & histology*
  • Cerebellar Cortex / ultrastructure
  • Female
  • Male
  • Nerve Degeneration
  • Nerve Fibers, Myelinated / cytology*
  • Staining and Labeling
  • Time Factors