We have used calretinin antibodies to label selectively the mosaic of AII amacrine cells in the macaque retina. Confocal analysis of double-labeled material indicated that AII dendrites spiral down around descending rod bipolar axons before enveloping the synaptic terminals. Processes from a previously observed dopaminergic plexus in the inner nuclear layer were observed to contact the somata of calretinin-positive AII somata. Intracellular neurobiotin injection revealed that AII amacrine cells are tracer coupled to other AII amacrine cells and to some unidentified cone bipolar cells. An analysis of the retinal distribution of macaque AII amacrine cells, including an area in and around the fovea, showed a peak density of approximately 5,000 cells/mm(2) at an eccentricity of 1.5 mm. Staining of AII amacrine cells in central retina with antibodies to calretinin was confirmed by confocal microscopy. These results indicate that calretinin antibodies can be used to label the AII amacrine cell population selectively and that primate AII amacrine cells share many of the features of previously described mammalian AII amacrine cells. The peak AII cell density closely matched the peak sampling rate of scotopic visual acuity. Calculations suggest that, in central macaque retina, where midget ganglion cells are more numerous, AII amacrine cells form the limit of scotopic visual acuity (Wässle et al.  J. Comp. Neurol. 361:537-551). As the ganglion cell density falls rapidly away from the fovea, there is a cross-over point at around 15 degrees eccentricity that matches the inflection point in a psychophysically derived plot of scotopic visual acuity versus eccentricity (Lennie and Fairchild  Vision Res. 34:477-482). The correspondence between the anatomic and psychophysical data supports our interpretation that the anatomic sampling rate of AII amacrine cells limits central scotopic acuity.
Copyright 1999 Wiley-Liss, Inc.