The anterior horn of the spinal cord (also called the anterior cornu, anterior column or ventral horn) is the ventral (front) grey matter section of the spinal cord. The anterior horn contains motor neurons that affect the axial muscles while the posterior horn receives information regarding touch and sensation. The anterior horn is where the cell bodies of alpha motor neurons are located.
It is these cells that are affected in the so-called "anterior horn diseases", namely amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, spinal muscular atrophy, Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease, poliomyelitis, West Nile virus, and progressive muscular atrophy. These motorneurons are also affected in Spinal and Bulbar Muscular Atrophy (Kennedy disease).
The anterior column (anterior cornu, anterior horn), directed forward, is broad and of a rounded or quadrangular shape. Its posterior part is termed the base, and its anterior part the head, but these are not differentiated from each other by any well-defined constriction. It is separated from the surface of the medulla spinalis by a layer of white substance which is traversed by the bundles of the anterior nerve roots. In the thoracic region, the postero-lateral part of the anterior column projects laterally as a triangular field, which is named the lateral column (columna lateralis; lateral cornu).
This article was originally based on an entry from a public domain edition of Gray's Anatomy. As such, some of the information contained within it may be outdated.