What Is the Anterior Horn Cell?

The anterior horn cell is a portion of the spinal cord that contains the motor neurons responsible for body’s axial muscles. The anterior horn cell is also called the anterior column, anterior cornu or ventral horn. The anterior horn cell is one of the three parts of gray matter in the spinal column. The other two parts are the lateral and posterior gray columns. \

During development, vertebrates experience a differentiation of the spinal column. The anterior or ventral components of the spinal column hold most of the neurons and cells that are responsible for movement. Such cells are called motor neurons. The neurons that travel from the brain to the spinal cord are called upper motor neurons, while the neurons that travel from the spinal cord to the muscles are called lower motor neurons.

The posterior or dorsal column develops sensory nerve cells during development. These cells help to transmit information from the extremities to the brain so that the person or animal can adjust its movement and posture.

Many diseases affect the anterior horn, causing serious symptoms. Polio, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis and progressive muscular atrophy are diseases that frequently include problems within the anterior horn. Often, people with such diseases experience trembling extremities or weakness.