Cerebellar granule cells are generated postnatally in humans

Maren C. Kiessling, Andreas Büttner, Camilla Butti, Jens Müller-Starck, Stefan Milz, Patrick R. Hof, Hans Georg Frank, Christoph Schmitz

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18 Scopus citations


How many cerebellar granule cells are generated pre- or postnatally in human is unknown. Using a rigorous design-based stereologic approach we investigated postmortem cerebella from 14 children who died between the first postnatal day (P1) and 11 months of age (M11). We found a statistically significant (p < 0.05) age-related increase in the total number of granule cells from 5.9 × 109 at M1 to 37.6 × 109 at M10/11 per cerebellar half but not in the total number of Purkinje cells (12.1 × 106 at M1 vs. 13.9 × 106 at M10/11 per cerebellar half). Accordingly, approximately 85 % of the cerebellar granule cells are generated postnatally in human, and the number of granule cells per Purkinje cell in the human cerebellum increases from 485 at M1 to 2,700 at M10/11, approximately. These data indicate that the human cerebellum has a much higher functional plasticity during the first year of life than previously thought, and may respond very sensitively to internal and external influences during this time. This has important implications for several neuropsychiatric conditions in which cerebellar involvement has been demonstrated.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1271-1286
Number of pages16
JournalBrain Structure and Function
Issue number4
StatePublished - Jul 2014


  • Cerebellum
  • Granule cells
  • Postnatal brain development
  • Purkinje cells
  • Stereology


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