Disruption of transient photoreceptor targeting within the inner plexiform layer following early ablation of cholinergic amacrine cells in the ferret

Vis Neurosci. 2001 Sep-Oct;18(5):741-51. doi: 10.1017/s095252380118507x.


Photoreceptors in the ferret's retina have been shown to project transiently to the inner plexiform layer (IPL) prior to their differentiation of an outer segment. On postnatal day 15 (P-15), when this projection achieves maximal density, the photoreceptors projecting into the IPL extend primarily to one of two depths, coincident with the processes of cholinergic amacrine cells. The present study has used an excitotoxic approach employing subcutaneous injections of L-glutamate to ablate these cholinergic amacrine cells on P-7, in order to see whether their elimination alters this targeting of photoreceptor terminals within the IPL. The near-complete elimination of cholinergic amacrine cells at P-15 was confirmed, although the population of retinal ganglion cells was also affected, being depleted by roughly 50%. The rod opsin-immunopositive terminals in such treated ferrets no longer showed a stratified distribution, being found throughout the depth of the IPL, as well as extending into the ganglion cell layer. This effect should not be due to the partial loss of retinal ganglion cells, however, since optic nerve transection at P-2, which eliminates the ganglion cells entirely while leaving the cholinergic amacrine cell population intact, was shown not to affect the stratification pattern of the photoreceptors within the IPL. These results strongly suggest that the targeting of the photoreceptor terminals to discrete strata within the IPL is dependent upon the cholinergic amacrine cell processes.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Amacrine Cells / cytology
  • Amacrine Cells / drug effects
  • Amacrine Cells / physiology*
  • Animals
  • Cell Count
  • Female
  • Ferrets / physiology*
  • Glutamic Acid / toxicity
  • Injections, Subcutaneous
  • Interneurons / cytology
  • Interneurons / physiology*
  • Microscopy, Confocal
  • Optic Nerve / physiology
  • Photoreceptor Cells, Vertebrate / cytology
  • Photoreceptor Cells, Vertebrate / physiology*
  • Receptors, Cholinergic / metabolism*
  • Retinal Ganglion Cells / physiology
  • Rod Opsins / metabolism
  • Synapses / physiology*


  • Receptors, Cholinergic
  • Rod Opsins
  • Glutamic Acid