Receptor targets of amacrine cells

Vis Neurosci. 2012 Jan;29(1):11-29. doi: 10.1017/S0952523812000028.


Amacrine cells are a morphologically and functionally diverse group of inhibitory interneurons. Morphologically, they have been divided into approximately 30 types. Although this diversity is probably important to the fine structure and function of the retinal circuit, the amacrine cells have been more generally divided into two subclasses. Glycinergic narrow-field amacrine cells have dendrites that ramify close to their somas, cross the sublaminae of the inner plexiform layer, and create cross talk between its parallel ON and OFF pathways. GABAergic wide-field amacrine cells have dendrites that stretch long distances from their soma but ramify narrowly within an inner plexiform layer sublamina. These wide-field cells are thought to mediate inhibition within a sublamina and thus within the ON or OFF pathway. The postsynaptic targets of all amacrine cell types include bipolar, ganglion, and other amacrine cells. Almost all amacrine cells use GABA or glycine as their primary neurotransmitter, and their postsynaptic receptor targets include the most common GABA(A), GABA(C), and glycine subunit receptor configurations. This review addresses the diversity of amacrine cells, the postsynaptic receptors on their target cells in the inner plexiform layer of the retina, and some of the inhibitory mechanisms that arise as a result. When possible, the effects of GABAergic and glycinergic inputs on the visually evoked responses of their postsynaptic targets are discussed.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Amacrine Cells / classification
  • Amacrine Cells / metabolism*
  • Animals
  • Humans
  • Neural Inhibition / physiology
  • Receptors, GABA / metabolism*
  • Receptors, Glycine / metabolism*
  • Retina / cytology*
  • Synaptic Transmission / physiology
  • Visual Pathways / cytology
  • Visual Pathways / physiology


  • Receptors, GABA
  • Receptors, Glycine