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Acta Anat (Basel). 1989;136(1):61-8.

Development of human cerebellar nuclei. Morphometric study.

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Department of Anatomy, Tohoku University School of Medicine, Sendai, Japan.


The morphometric development of the human cerebellar nuclei was examined in 9 fetuses (16-40 weeks of gestation; WG), an infant (2 months old) and 2 adults (16 and 63 years old). With the morphological observation of serial sections of the brain containing the cerebellar nuclei, the authors measured sections to get several morphometric parameters: the volume of nuclear column and number, packing density and cell body area of neurons. Each nucleus (dentate, emboliform, globose and fastigial nucleus) was recognized even at 16 WG. Nerve cells containing Nissl bodies were observed in all nuclei after 23 WG. Degenerative changes were detected in some neurons for every nucleus at 21 and 23 WG. Three stages were observed in the developmental course of nuclear volume and neuronal packing density: the primary or undifferentiated stage at 16 WG, the secondary stage with variability at 21-32 WG and the tertiary stage with monotonous increase (nuclear volume) or gradual decrease (neuronal packing density) after 35 WG. No significant correlation between neuronal number and gestational age was noticed for every nucleus. The analysis of cell body area (neuronal size) demonstrated that the dentate neurons developed after the intermediate or fastigial neurons. It is concluded that there is a critical period between slightly before 20 WG and slightly after 30 WG, matched with the secondary stage in the development of the cerebellar nuclei.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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