Morphology and distribution of catecholaminergic amacrine cells in the cone-dominated tree shrew retina

J Comp Neurol. 1991 Jun 1;308(1):91-102. doi: 10.1002/cne.903080109.


The tree shrew (Tupaia belangeri) has a cone-dominated retina with a rod proportion of only 5%. This is in contrast to the usual mammalian pattern of rod-dominated retinae. Rod bipolar cells are present at relatively low densities in the tree shrew retina, suggesting that a reduced, but normal, rod pathway might be preserved. The present study investigated another common constituent of the rod pathway, the dopaminergic amacrine cells, and analysed their morphology and distribution by light and electron microscopy. Catecholaminergic (presumed dopaminergic) amacrine cells were labelled with an antibody against tyrosine hydroxylase (TH). Intense TH-immunoreactivity was found in perikarya and dendrites of a uniform amacrine cell population. TH-immunoreactive amacrine cell density varies across the retina from 10 cells/mm2 in the periphery to 40 cells/mm2 in more central regions (mean cell density about 25 cells/mm2). The relatively large cell bodies are located exclusively in the innermost part of the inner nuclear layer. The dendrites form a dense plexus at the border between the inner plexiform layer and the inner nuclear layer. The finer dendritic processes contain many varicosities and form characteristic dendritic "rings" like those seen in other mammals. TH-immunoreactive processes also run between cell bodies in the vitread inner nuclear layer; a few extend into the sclerad inner nuclear layer and occasionally reach the outer plexiform layer (possible interplexiform cells). A few TH-immunoreactive processes are seen in the middle of the inner plexiform layer. Electron microscopy of TH-immunoreactive processes revealed conventional synapses onto somata and processes of unlabelled amacrine cells.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Antibodies, Monoclonal / immunology
  • Catecholamines / physiology*
  • Dopamine / metabolism
  • Dopamine / physiology
  • Female
  • Immunohistochemistry
  • Male
  • Microscopy, Electron
  • Neural Pathways / physiology
  • Photoreceptor Cells / physiology*
  • Retina / cytology*
  • Shrews / physiology*
  • Tyrosine 3-Monooxygenase / immunology
  • Tyrosine 3-Monooxygenase / metabolism


  • Antibodies, Monoclonal
  • Catecholamines
  • Tyrosine 3-Monooxygenase
  • Dopamine