The human temporal cortex contains a type of interneuron, identified by Golgi impregnation which, like the axo-axonic or chandelier cells found in animals, establishes Gray's type II synaptic contacts exclusively with the axon initial segments of pyramidal cells. Each terminal segment is composed of 3-12 boutons to form a "chandelier"-like appearance. For the two human axo-axonic cells analysed in this study we could identify 269 and 86 bouton rows respectively, which represents an equivalent number of postsynaptic pyramidal cells. A terminal bouton row from one of these Golgi-impregnated cells was shown to be in synaptic contact with the axon initial segment of a Golgi-impregnated pyramidal cell. The very specific nature of the target of axo-axonic cells, together with their highly divergent axonal arborization, means that they are ideally placed to control the output of a large population of pyramidal cells. Since previous studies in animals have shown the GABAergic nature of axo-axonic cells it is possible that human axo-axonic cells could be involved in the generation of epileptic activity or in the control of its propagation.
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