Cellular positioning and dendritic field size of cholinergic amacrine cells are impervious to early ablation of neighboring cells in the mouse retina

Vis Neurosci. Jan-Feb 2004;21(1):13-22. doi: 10.1017/s0952523804041021.


We have examined the role of neighbor relationships between cholinergic amacrine cells upon their positioning and dendritic field size by producing partial ablations of this population of cells during early development. We first determined the effectiveness of L-glutamate as an excitotoxin for ablating cholinergic amacrine cells in the developing mouse retina. Subcutaneous injections (4 mg/g) made on P-3 and thereafter were found to produce a near-complete elimination, while injections at P-2 were ineffective. Lower doses on P-3 produced only partial reductions, and were subsequently used to examine the effect of partial ablation upon mosaic organization and dendritic growth of the remaining cells. Four different Voronoi-based measures of mosaic geometry were examined in L-glutamate-treated and normal (saline-treated) retinas. Partial depletions of around 40% produced cholinergic mosaics that, when scaled for density, approximated the mosaic geometry of the normal retina. Separate comparisons simulating a 40% random deletion of the normal retina produced mosaics that were no different from those experimentally depleted retinas. Consequently, no evidence was found for positional regulation in the absence of normal neighbor relationships. Single cells in the ganglion cell layer were intracellularly filled with Lucifer Yellow to examine the morphology and dendritic field extent following partial ablation of the cholinergic amacrine cells. No discernable effect was found on their starburst morphology, and total dendritic field area, number of primary dendrites, and branch frequency were not significantly different. Cholinergic amacrine cells normally increase their dendritic field area after P-3 in excess of retinal expansion; despite this, the present results show that this growth is not controlled by the density of neighboring processes.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Amacrine Cells / ultrastructure*
  • Animals
  • Cholinergic Fibers / ultrastructure*
  • Dendrites / ultrastructure*
  • Female
  • Glutamic Acid / pharmacology
  • Male
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred C57BL
  • Neurotoxins / pharmacology
  • Retina / cytology*
  • Retina / drug effects
  • Retina / physiology*


  • Neurotoxins
  • Glutamic Acid