Long-term treatment of the developing retina with the metabotropic glutamate agonist APB induces long-term changes in the stratification of retinal ganglion cell dendrites

Dev Neurosci. 2004;26(5-6):396-405. doi: 10.1159/000082282.


The gradual restriction of initially multistratified retinal ganglion cell (RGC) dendrites into ON and OFF sublaminae of the inner plexiform layer (IPL) can be effectively blocked by treating the developing retina with 2-amino-4-phosphonobutyrate (APB), the metabotropic glutamate agonist, or by light deprivation. Previous studies have focused on the short-term consequences of such manipulations, so the long-term effects of arresting dendritic stratification on the structural development of RGCs are as yet unknown. In the present study, we have addressed this issue by performing a morphological analysis of alpha RGCs labeled by retrograde transport of horseradish peroxidase injected into the dorsal lateral geniculate nucleus of adult cats that received monocular injections of APB from postnatal (P) day 2 until P30. A large proportion of the alpha cells in the APB-treated eye (44%) were found to have multistratified dendrites that terminated in both the ON and OFF sublaminae of the IPL. The dendritic arborization pattern in the sublaminae of the IPL of these cells was asymmetric, showing a variety of forms. Immunolabeling of retinal cross-sections showed that mGLUR6 receptors appeared normal in density and location, while qualitative observation suggested an increase in the axonal arborization of rod bipolar cells. These findings indicate that long-term treatment of the neonatal retina with APB induces a long- lasting structural reorganization in retinal circuitry that most likely accounts for some of the previously described changes in the functional properties of RGCs.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Aminobutyrates / pharmacology
  • Animals
  • Animals, Newborn
  • Cats
  • Cell Differentiation / drug effects
  • Cell Differentiation / physiology
  • Dendrites / drug effects
  • Dendrites / metabolism
  • Dendrites / ultrastructure*
  • Excitatory Amino Acid Agonists / pharmacology
  • Glutamic Acid / metabolism*
  • Horseradish Peroxidase
  • Immunohistochemistry
  • Neural Pathways / cytology
  • Neural Pathways / growth & development
  • Neural Pathways / metabolism
  • Neuronal Plasticity / drug effects
  • Neuronal Plasticity / physiology
  • Receptors, Metabotropic Glutamate / agonists
  • Receptors, Metabotropic Glutamate / metabolism*
  • Retina / cytology*
  • Retina / growth & development*
  • Retina / metabolism
  • Retinal Ganglion Cells / cytology*
  • Retinal Ganglion Cells / drug effects
  • Retinal Ganglion Cells / metabolism


  • Aminobutyrates
  • Excitatory Amino Acid Agonists
  • Receptors, Metabotropic Glutamate
  • metabotropic glutamate receptor 6
  • Glutamic Acid
  • Horseradish Peroxidase
  • 2-amino-4-phosphonobutyric acid