Topological specificity in reinnervation of the superior colliculus by regenerated retinal ganglion cell axons in adult hamsters

J Neurosci. 2001 Feb 1;21(3):951-60. doi: 10.1523/JNEUROSCI.21-03-00951.2001.


In normal rodents there is a precise topology of the retinocollicular projection, the nasotemporal and ventrodorsal axes of the retina being respectively projected onto the caudorostral and mediolateral axes of the contralateral superior colliculus (SC). We evaluated the distribution of regenerated retinal ganglion cell (RGC) axon terminals in the SC of adult hamsters in which an unbranched peripheral nerve graft was directed from the retina to the contralateral SC. Responses to visual stimulation of individual RGCs were recorded from terminal arbors of their regenerated axons in the reinnervated SC. Retinal positions of these RGCs were inferred from the locations of their visual receptive fields. At some sites in the reinnervated SC, axon terminal arbors converged from widely separated RGCs. Conversely, axon terminal arbors at widely separated sites in the SC could emanate from contiguous RGCs. To assess whether any tendency for order was superimposed on the apparent disorganization of the regenerated projection, we evaluated the relative positions of pairs of RGC terminals in the SC in relation to the relative retinal locations of the corresponding pairs of RGCs. Among the 983 pairs of RGCs able to be evaluated from nine animals studied 30-60 weeks after grafting, there was a statistically significant 3/2 tendency for the more nasally situated of two RGCs to project its terminal more caudally in the SC than that of the more temporally situated RGC. A similar tendency toward appropriate organization was not found with respect to the ventrodorsal axis of the retina and the mediolateral axis of the SC.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Axons / physiology*
  • Cricetinae
  • Female
  • Graft Survival / physiology
  • Mesocricetus
  • Nerve Regeneration / physiology*
  • Optic Nerve Injuries / surgery
  • Peripheral Nerves / transplantation*
  • Photic Stimulation
  • Presynaptic Terminals / physiology
  • Presynaptic Terminals / ultrastructure
  • Recovery of Function
  • Retinal Ganglion Cells / cytology
  • Retinal Ganglion Cells / physiology*
  • Superior Colliculi / cytology
  • Superior Colliculi / physiology*
  • Transplantation, Autologous
  • Visual Fields / physiology