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Unipolar brush cells (UBCs) are a class of excitatory glutamatergic interneuron found in the granular layer of the cerebellar cortex and also in the granule cell domain of the cochlear nucleus.[1][2] They were first described in 1977 by Altman and Bayer.

The UBC has a round or oval cell body with usually a single short dendrite that ends in a brushlike tuft of short dendrioles. These brush dendrioles form very large synaptic junctions. They work together with vestibular fibres to integrate signals involving the orientation of the head that modulates reflex behaviour.[3] UBCs are plentiful in those regions linked to vestibular functions and in the vermis where they are further concentrated into specific domains. UBCs function to amplify inputs from the vestibular ganglia and nuclei by spreading and prolonging excitation within the granular layer.[1][4] UBCs are intrinsically-firing neurons. The shape and size of neuron cell bodies determine their firing patterns.

The dendritic brush and the large endings of the axonal branches are involved in the formation of glomeruli. The UBC has one short dendrite where the granule cell has four or five. UBCs are particularly evident in the parafloccus and flocculus. They receive glutamatergic inputs on its dendritic brush from a single mossy fibre terminal in the form of a giant glutamatergic synapse and make glutamatergic synapses with granule cells and other UBCs.


  1. 1.0 1.1 (2006). Unipolar Brush Cells of the Cerebellum Are Produced in the Rhombic Lip and Migrate through Developing White Matter. Journal of Neuroscience 26 (36): 9184–9195.
  2. (2000). Unipolar brush cell: a potential feedforward excitatory interneuron of the cerebellum. Neuroscience 98 (4): 625–636.
  3. Harris J, Moreno S, Shaw G, Mugnaini E (December 1993). Unusual neurofilament composition in cerebellar unipolar brush neurons. Journal of Neurocytology 22 (12): 1039–59.
  4. (2001). Cerebellar unipolar brush cells are targets of primary vestibular afferents: an experimental study in the gerbil. Experimental Brain Research 140 (2): 162–170.

Further Reading

  • Nunzi MG, Birnstiel S, Bhattacharyya BJ, Slater NT, Mugnaini E (June 2001). Unipolar brush cells form a glutamatergic projection system within the mouse cerebellar cortex. The Journal of Comparative Neurology 434 (3): 329–41.
  • (1994). The unipolar brush cell: A neglected neuron of the mammalian cerebellar cortex. The Journal of Comparative Neurology 339 (2): 174–180.
  • (2013). Tinnitus, Unipolar Brush Cells, and Cerebellar Glutamatergic Function in an Animal Model. PLoS ONE 8 (6): e64726.

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