Unipolar neuron

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Unipolar neuron
Neurons uni bi multi pseudouni.svg
1: Unipolar neuron
Example of several unipolar neurons from a nerve ganglion of a velvet worm (a primitive arthropod). The neurons were stained for serotonin immunoreactivity, and photographed using a confocal microscope, with multiple images overlaid and color-coded according to depth. Arrows mark the peripherally located cell bodies of several neurons, whose neurites extend into the central neuropil (np), where their complex ramifications are indiscernible. Scale bar: 50 micrometres. [1]
Latin neuron unipolare
TH H2.
FMA 67278
Anatomical terms of neuroanatomy

A unipolar neuron is a neuron in which only one process, called a neurite, extends from the cell body. The neurite then branches to form dendritic and axonal processes. Most neurons in the central nervous systems of invertebrates, including insects, are unipolar [2] . The cell bodies of invertebrate unipolar neurons are often located around the edges of the neuropil, in the so-called cell-body rind [3] .

Most neurons in the central nervous systems of vertebrates, including mammals, are multipolar [4] . Multipolar neurons extend multiple processes extend from the cell body, including dendrites and axons. Some neurons in the vertebrate brain have a unipolar morphology: a notable example is the unipolar brush cell, found in the cerebellum and granule region of the dorsal cochlear nucleus.

A third morphological class, bipolar neurons, extend just one axon and dendritic process from the cell body. Examples of bipolar neurons include most invertebrate sensory neurons and bipolar cells of the vertebrate retina.

Some vertebrate sensory neurons are classified as pseudo-unipolar. Pseudo-unipolar neurons initially develop as bipolar cells, but at some point the two processes that extend from the cell body fuse to form a single neurite [4] . The axon then splits into two branches. Sensory neurons with cell bodies in the dorsal root ganglia of the vertebrate spinal cord are pseudo-unipolar: one branch projects to the periphery (to sensory receptors in the skin, joints, and muscle), the other to the spinal cord.

Related Research Articles

Axon Long projection on a neuron that conducts signals away

An axon, or nerve fiber, is a long, slender projection of a nerve cell, or neuron, in vertebrates, that typically conducts electrical impulses known as action potentials away from the nerve cell body. The function of the axon is to transmit information to different neurons, muscles, and glands. In certain sensory neurons, such as those for touch and warmth, the axons are called afferent nerve fibers and the electrical impulse travels along these from the periphery to the cell body, and from the cell body to the spinal cord along another branch of the same axon. Axon dysfunction has caused many inherited and acquired neurological disorders which can affect both the peripheral and central neurons. Nerve fibers are classed into three types – group A nerve fibers, group B nerve fibers, and group C nerve fibers. Groups A and B are myelinated, and group C are unmyelinated. These groups include both sensory fibers and motor fibers. Another classification groups only the sensory fibers as Type I, Type II, Type III, and Type IV.

Central nervous system Brain and spinal cord

The central nervous system (CNS) is the part of the nervous system consisting primarily of the brain and spinal cord. The CNS is so named because it integrates the received information and coordinates and influences the activity of all parts of the bodies of bilaterally symmetric animals—i.e., all multicellular animals except sponges and radially symmetric animals such as jellyfish—and it contains the majority of the nervous system. The CNS also includes the retina and the optic nerve, as well as the olfactory nerves and olfactory epithelium as parts of the CNS, synapsing directly on brain tissue without intermediate ganglia. As such, the olfactory epithelium is the only central nervous tissue in direct contact with the environment, which opens up for therapeutic treatments. The CNS is contained within the dorsal body cavity, with the brain housed in the cranial cavity and the spinal cord in the spinal canal. In vertebrates, the brain is protected by the skull, while the spinal cord is protected by the vertebrae. The brain and spinal cord are both enclosed in the meninges. Within the CNS, the interneuronal space is filled with a large amount of supporting non-nervous cells called neuroglia or glia from the Greek for "glue".

Dendrite Small projection on a neuron that receive signals

Dendrites, also dendrons, are branched protoplasmic extensions of a nerve cell that propagate the electrochemical stimulation received from other neural cells to the cell body, or soma, of the neuron from which the dendrites project. Electrical stimulation is transmitted onto dendrites by upstream neurons via synapses which are located at various points throughout the dendritic tree. Dendrites play a critical role in integrating these synaptic inputs and in determining the extent to which action potentials are produced by the neuron. Dendritic arborization, also known as dendritic branching, is a multi-step biological process by which neurons form new dendritic trees and branches to create new synapses. The morphology of dendrites such as branch density and grouping patterns are highly correlated to the function of the neuron. Malformation of dendrites is also tightly correlated to impaired nervous system function. Some disorders that are associated with the malformation of dendrites are autism, depression, schizophrenia, Down syndrome and anxiety.

Neuron Electrically excitable cell that communicates via synapses

A neuron, neurone or nerve cell, is an electrically excitable cell that communicates with other cells via specialized connections called synapses. It is the main component of nervous tissue in all animals except sponges and placozoa. Plants and fungi do not have nerve cells.

Nerve Enclosed, cable-like bundle of axons in the peripheral nervous system

A nerve is an enclosed, cable-like bundle of nerve fibres called axons, in the peripheral nervous system. A nerve transmits electrical impulses and is the basic unit of the peripheral nervous system. A nerve provides a common pathway for the electrochemical nerve impulses called action potentials that are transmitted along each of the axons to peripheral organs or, in the case of sensory nerves, from the periphery back to the central nervous system. Each axon within the nerve is an extension of an individual neuron, along with other supportive cells such as some Schwann cells that coat the axons in myelin.

Nervous system Highly complex part of an animal that coordinates actions and sensory information by transmitting signals between different parts of the body

The nervous system is a highly complex part of an animal that coordinates its actions and sensory information by transmitting signals to and from different parts of its body. The nervous system detects environmental changes that impact the body, then works in tandem with the endocrine system to respond to such events. Nervous tissue first arose in wormlike organisms about 550 to 600 million years ago. In vertebrates it consists of two main parts, the central nervous system (CNS) and the peripheral nervous system (PNS). The CNS consists of the brain and spinal cord. The PNS consists mainly of nerves, which are enclosed bundles of the long fibers or axons, that connect the CNS to every other part of the body. Nerves that transmit signals from the brain are called motor or efferent nerves, while those nerves that transmit information from the body to the CNS are called sensory or afferent. Spinal nerves serve both functions and are called mixed nerves. The PNS is divided into three separate subsystems, the somatic, autonomic, and enteric nervous systems. Somatic nerves mediate voluntary movement. The autonomic nervous system is further subdivided into the sympathetic and the parasympathetic nervous systems. The sympathetic nervous system is activated in cases of emergencies to mobilize energy, while the parasympathetic nervous system is activated when organisms are in a relaxed state. The enteric nervous system functions to control the gastrointestinal system. Both autonomic and enteric nervous systems function involuntarily. Nerves that exit from the cranium are called cranial nerves while those exiting from the spinal cord are called spinal nerves.

Nervous tissue Main component of the nervous system

Nervous tissue, also called neural tissue, is the main tissue component of the nervous system. The nervous system regulates and controls bodily functions and activity and consists of two parts: the central nervous system (CNS) comprising the brain and spinal cord, and the peripheral nervous system (PNS) comprising the branching peripheral nerves. It is composed of neurons, also known as nerve cells, which receive and transmit impulses, and neuroglia, also known as glial cells or glia, which assist the propagation of the nerve impulse as well as provide nutrients to the neurons.

Somatic nervous system Part of the peripheral nervous system

The somatic nervous system is the part of the peripheral nervous system associated with the voluntary control of body movements via skeletal muscles.

Afferent nerve fiber anatomical structure

Afferent nerve fibers refer to axonal projections that arrive at a particular brain region, as opposed to efferent projections that exit the region. These terms have a slightly different meaning in the context of the peripheral nervous system (PNS) and central nervous system (CNS).

Dorsal column–medial lemniscus pathway sensory spinal pathway

The dorsal column–medial lemniscus pathway (DCML) is a sensory pathway of the central nervous system that conveys sensations of fine touch, vibration, two-point discrimination, and proprioception (position) from the skin and joints. It transmits information from the body to the primary somatosensory cortex in the postcentral gyrus of the parietal lobe of the brain. The pathway receives information from sensory receptors throughout the body, and carries this in nerve tracts in the white matter of the dorsal columns of the spinal cord to the medulla, where it is continued in the medial lemniscus, on to the thalamus and relayed from there through the internal capsule and transmitted to the somatosensory cortex. The name dorsal-column medial lemniscus comes from the two structures that carry the sensory information: the dorsal columns of the spinal cord, and the medial lemniscus in the brainstem.

Dorsal root ganglion cluster of neurons in a dorsal root of a spinal nerve

A dorsal root ganglion is a cluster of neurons in a dorsal root of a spinal nerve. The cell bodies of sensory neurons known as first-order neurons are located in the dorsal root ganglia.

Multipolar neuron

A multipolar neuron is a type of neuron that possesses a single axon and many dendrites, allowing for the integration of a great deal of information from other neurons. These processes are projections from the neuron cell body. Multipolar neurons constitute the majority of neurons in the central nervous system. They include motor neurons and interneurons/relaying neurons are most commonly found in the cortex of the brain and the spinal cord. Peripherally, multipolar neurons are found in autonomic ganglia.

Pseudounipolar neuron type of neuron

A pseudounipolar neuron is a type of neuron which has one extension from its cell body. This type of neuron contains an axon that has split into two branches; one branch travels to the peripheral nervous system and the other to the central nervous system. A single process arises from the cell body and then divides into an axon and a dendrite. They develop embryologically as bipolar in shape and are thus termed pseudounipolar instead of unipolar.

Neuromorphology is the study of nervous system form, shape, and structure. The study involves looking at a particular part of the nervous system from a molecular and cellular level and connecting it to a physiological and anatomical point of view. The field also explores the communications and interactions within and between each specialized section of the nervous system. Morphology is distinct from morphogenesis. Morphology is the study of the shape and structure of biological organisms, while morphogenesis is the study of the biological development of the shape and structure of organisms. Therefore, neuromorphology focuses on the specifics of the structure of the nervous system and not the process by which the structure was developed. Neuromorphology and morphogenesis, while two different entities, are nonetheless closely linked.

Bipolar neuron Neuron with only one axon and one dendrite

A bipolar neuron, or bipolar cell, is a type of neuron that has two extensions. Many bipolar cells are specialized sensory neurons for the transmission of sense. As such, they are part of the sensory pathways for smell, sight, taste, hearing, touch, balance and proprioception. The other shape classifications of neurons include unipolar, pseudounipolar and multipolar. During embryonic development, pseudounipolar neurons begin as bipolar in shape but become pseudounipolar as they mature.

Spinal cord Long, tubular central nervous system structure in the vertebral column

The spinal cord is a long, thin, tubular structure made up of nervous tissue, which extends from the medulla oblongata in the brainstem to the lumbar region of the vertebral column. It encloses the central canal of the spinal cord, which contains cerebrospinal fluid. The brain and spinal cord together make up the central nervous system (CNS). In humans, the spinal cord begins at the occipital bone, passing through the foramen magnum and entering the spinal canal at the beginning of the cervical vertebrae. The spinal cord extends down to between the first and second lumbar vertebrae, where it ends. The enclosing bony vertebral column protects the relatively shorter spinal cord. It is around 45 cm (18 in) in men and around 43 cm (17 in) long in women. The diameter of the spinal cord ranges from 13 mm in the cervical and lumbar regions to 6.4 mm in the thoracic area.

Spinal interneuron

A spinal interneuron, found in the spinal cord, relays signals between (afferent) sensory neurons, and (efferent) motor neurons. Different classes of spinal interneurons are involved in the process of sensory-motor integration. Most interneurons are found in the grey column, a region of grey matter in the spinal cord.

Neuronal self-avoidance

Neuronal self-avoidance, or isoneural avoidance, is an important property of neurons which consists in the tendency of branches arising from a single soma to turn away from one another. The arrangements of branches within neuronal arbors are established during development and result in minimal crossing or overlap as they spread over a territory, resulting in the typical fasciculated morphology of neurons.

An anaxonic neuron is a type of neuron where there is no axon or this cannot be differentiated from the dendrites. Being loyal to the etymology of anaxonic there are two types of anaxonic neurons in the human nervous system, the undifferentiated anaxonic neuron where the axon cannot be differentiated from the dendrites, and the unipolar brush cell (UBC), that has no axon and only a dendritic arbour.

Segmentation is the physical characteristic by which the human body is divided into repeating subunits called segments arranged along a longitudinal axis. In humans, the segmentation characteristic observed in the nervous system is of biological and evolutionary significance. Segmentation is a crucial developmental process involved in the patterning and segregation of groups of cells with different features, generating regional properties for such cell groups and organizing them both within the tissues as well as along the embryonic axis.


  1. Source: Mayer and Harzsch, BMC Evolutionary Biology 2007.
  2. The Oxford handbook of invertebrate neurobiology. Byrne, John H.,. New York, NY. ISBN   978-0-19-045675-7. OCLC   1040078331.CS1 maint: extra punctuation (link) CS1 maint: others (link)
  3. Strausfeld, Nicholas James. (2012). Arthropod brains : evolution, functional elegance, and historical significance. Belknap Press of Harvard University Press. ISBN   978-0-674-04633-7. OCLC   778852029.
  4. 1 2 Kandel, Eric R. (2000). Principles of neural science. Prentice Hall. ISBN   0-8385-7701-6. OCLC   541621060.