Changes in the visual system of monocularly sutured or enucleated cats demonstrable with cytochrome oxidase histochemistry

Brain Res. 1979 Jul 27;171(1):11-28. doi: 10.1016/0006-8993(79)90728-5.


Endogenous cytochrome oxidase activity within the mitochondria of neurons and neuropil was demonstrated histochemically under normal and experimental conditions. Since enzymatic changes were noted with chronic neuronal inactivity in the auditory system (Wong-Riley et al), the present study sought to examine functionally induced enzymatic changes in the visual system of kittens. Eight kittens were used experimentally: 5 had monocular lid suture for varying periods of time; one had binocular lid suture followed by monocular suture followed by binocular opening; two had monocular enucleation. All initial procedures were performed before eye opening. Materials from other normal kittens and cats were also used as controls. At the end of the experiments, the animals were perfused with aldehyde solutions and frozen sections of the brains were incubated for cytochrome oxidase activity (a detailed protocol was outlined). The results indicated that the deprivation caused by monocular suture produced a decrease in the cytochrome oxidase staining of the binocular segment of the deprived geniculate laminae. Enucleation yielded a greater decrease in the cytochrome oxidase activity in the affected geniculate laminae. However, the staining in the 'normal' lamina extended across the interlaminar border to include a row of surviving large cells in the 'denervated' lamina. The staining of the monocular segment appeared not to be affected by lid suture, but was decreased by enucleation. At the cortical level, lamina IV in area 17 of normal cats was stained darkly as a continuous band. Following lid suture, this pattern was replaced in part by alternating columns of light and dark staining, suggestive of ocular dominance columns. Thus, a decrease in neuronal activity due to reduced visual stimulation or destruction of the primary afferent nerves led to a significant decrease in the level of oxidative enzyme activity one to several synapses away.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cats
  • Dominance, Cerebral / physiology*
  • Electron Transport Complex IV / metabolism*
  • Geniculate Bodies / enzymology*
  • Mitochondria / enzymology
  • Neurons / enzymology
  • Retina / enzymology
  • Sensory Deprivation
  • Visual Cortex / enzymology*
  • Visual Pathways / enzymology


  • Electron Transport Complex IV