QS Study

The Purkinje cell is a nerve cell of a large, branched type found in the cortex of the cerebellum. They are influenced by electrical discharge from the sinoatrial node. They are a basically neurons, which are some of the largest in the human brain.

Location – Only in the cerebellar cortex. They are found within the Purkinje layer in the cerebellum.

Fig: Confocal light micrograph of a Purkinje cell

Functional Anatomy

The Purkinje cells are among the biggest neurons of the body. They have very extensive dendrite absorbs that extend throughout the molecular layer. Their axons which are the only output from the cerebellar cortex generally pass to the deep nuclei. It is one of the largest types of neurons in the brain, Purkinje cells act as output neurons for the cerebellar cortex, carrying signals from the cerebellar cortex to the deep cerebellar nuclei.

In humans, Purkinje cells are affected in a variety of diseases ranging from toxic exposure (alcohol, lithium), to autoimmune diseases and to genetic mutations and neurodegenerative diseases.

Function

It is the functional unit of the cerebellar cortex. Most Purkinje cells release a neurotransmitter called GABA (gamma-aminobutyric acid), which exerts inhibitory actions on certain neurons and thereby reduces the transmission of nerve impulses.