Neurons of the human retina: a Golgi study

J Comp Neurol. 1992 Apr 8;318(2):147-87. doi: 10.1002/cne.903180204.


Golgi techniques have been applied to post mortem specimens of human retina. Analysis was possible on 150 human retinas processed and viewed by light microscopy as wholemounts. Camera lucida drawings and photography were used to classify the impregnated neurons into 3 types of horizontal cell, 9 types of bipolar cell, 24 basic types of amacrine cell, a single type of interplexiform cell, and 18 types of ganglion cell. We have distinguished two types of midget bipolar cell: fmB (flat) and imB (invaginating). In central retina, both types are typically single-headed, each clearly contacting a single cone. Peripherally, they may be two- or even three-headed, obviously contacting more than one cone. Two types of small-field diffuse cone bipolars occurring as flat and invaginating varieties are found across the entire retina from fovea to far periphery. The single rod bipolar type appears about 1 mm from the fovea and increases in dendritic tree diameter from there into the far periphery. The putative "ON-center" blue cone bipolar and the giant bistratified bipolar first described by Mariani are also present in human retina and we add two previously undescribed bipolar cell types: a putative giant diffuse invaginating and a candidate "OFF-center" blue cone bipolar. Taking into account the variation of cell size with eccentricity at all points on the retina, we observed three distinct varieties of horizontal cell. The HI is the well known, long-axon-bearing cell of Polyak. HII is the more recently described multibranched, wavy-axoned horizontal cell. The third variety, HIII, introduced here, has been separated from the HI type on morphological criteria of having a larger, more asymmetrical dendritic field and in contacting 30% more cones than the HI at any point on the retina. Amacrine cells proved to be most diverse in morphology. Many of the amacrine cell types that have been described in cat retina (Kolb et al., '81: Vision Res. 21; 1081-1114) were seen in this study. Where there are no equivalent cells in cat, we have adopted the descriptive terminology used by Mariani in monkey retina. Thus eight varieties of small-field amacrines (under 100 microns dendritic trees), eight varieties of medium-field cells (100-500 microns dendritic span), and eight large-field varieties (over 500 microns dendritic trees) have been classified. Often a broadly described variety of amacrine cell can be subdivided into as many as three subtypes dependent on stratification levels of their dendrites in the inner plexiform layer.(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 400 WORDS)

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cats / anatomy & histology
  • Dendrites / ultrastructure
  • Humans
  • Photoreceptor Cells / ultrastructure
  • Primates / anatomy & histology
  • Retina / cytology*
  • Retinal Ganglion Cells / ultrastructure
  • Staining and Labeling
  • Vision, Ocular / physiology