Imaging of nitric oxide in the retina

Vision Res. 2005 Dec;45(28):3469-86. doi: 10.1016/j.visres.2005.07.033. Epub 2005 Sep 19.


Nitric oxide (NO) is the most widespread signaling molecule found in the retina in that it can be made by every retinal cell type. NO is able to influence a wide variety of synaptic mechanisms ranging from increasing or decreasing neurotransmitter release to the modulation of gap junction conductivity. Although biochemical methods can analyze overall levels of NO, such methods cannot indicate the specific cell types involved. In the last few years, fluorescent imaging methods utilizing diaminofluorescein have allowed the real-time visualization of neurochemically or light stimulated NO-induced fluorescence (NO-IF) in specific retinal cells. Recent experiments have shown that this NO-IF can be stabilized using paraformaldehyde fixation. This aldehyde stabilization has allowed the imaging of NO production in the dark and in response to light, as well as the neurochemical modulation of light stimulated NO production. The results of these studies indicate that NO is not always freely diffusible and that NO is largely retained in many cells which make it. The NO production in retina is highly damped in that in the absence of stimulation, the endogenous levels of NO production are extremely low. Finally, different neurochemical or light stimulation protocols activate NO production in specific cells and subcellular compartments. Therefore, although the NO signaling is widespread in retina, it is very selectively activated and has different functions in specific retinal cell types. The use of NO imaging will continue to play a critical role in future studies of the function of NO in retina and other neural systems.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cyclic GMP / metabolism
  • Immunohistochemistry
  • Microscopy, Electron
  • Nitric Oxide / metabolism*
  • Retina / metabolism*
  • Retina / ultrastructure
  • Signal Transduction / physiology


  • Nitric Oxide
  • Cyclic GMP