Rod-signal interneurons in the rabbit retina: 2. AII amacrine cells

J Comp Neurol. 1991 Aug 8;310(2):154-69. doi: 10.1002/cne.903100203.


AII amacrine cells, which are the third-order neurons in the rod pathway, can be differentially labelled in rabbit retina by injecting Nuclear Yellow into the posterior chamber. Under ultraviolet excitation, the labelled retina appears strongly metachromatic, with the AII nuclei fluorescing silvery-yellow and the nuclei of other amacrine cells fluorescing blue. Labelled AII cells were injected with Lucifer Yellow under direct microscopic control in a superfused retinal preparation, and the dye was later photoconverted to an opaque reaction product. Rabbit AII amacrines, which number about 525,000 cells, reach a maximum density of 2,500-3,000 cells/mm2 on the peak visual streak, dropping to 400-500 cells/mm2 at the superior margin. These narrow-field amacrines have a bistratified dendritic morphology, with distinctive "lobular appendages" in sublamina a of the inner plexiform layer and wider ranging "arboreal dendrites" in sublamina b. Although the lobular field area increases 10-fold from the visual streak to the far periphery, the lobular field coverage is almost uniform across the retina, averaging 1.0 in inferior retina and 0.8 in superior retina. The dendritic field area of the arboreal dendrites also increases with eccentricity from the visual streak, but there are pronounced differences between inferior and superior retina. The arboreal fields are 2 to 3 times larger than the lobular fields throughout the inferior retina but up to 15 times larger in the superior retina. The arboreal field overlap is only 1.8 at the peak visual streak, increasing slightly to about 2.4 over most of the inferior retina; the overlap increases sharply in the superior retina, however, reaching values of 10 or more in the far periphery. Both the lobular and arboreal fields of AII cells are spaced more regularly than the somata, thus covering apparent gaps in the somatic array. An analysis of the potential convergence and divergence between rod bipolar cells and AII amacrine cells in the rabbit retina indicates that the neuronal architecture of the rod circuit is not organized in a uniform module that is simply scaled-up from central to peripheral retina. Moreover, peripheral fields in the superior and inferior retina that have equivalent densities of interneurons show markedly different rod bipolar----AII amacrine convergence ratios, with the result that many more rod photoreceptors converge on an AII amacrine cell in the superior retina than in the inferior retina.(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 400 WORDS)

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Benzimidazoles
  • Dendrites / ultrastructure
  • Female
  • Fluorescence
  • Histocytochemistry
  • Interneurons / physiology*
  • Isoquinolines
  • Male
  • Neurons / physiology
  • Photoreceptor Cells / physiology*
  • Rabbits
  • Retina / cytology*
  • Retina / physiology


  • Benzimidazoles
  • Isoquinolines
  • nuclear yellow
  • lucifer yellow