Identification of AⅡ amacrine, displaced amacrine, and bistratified ganglion cell types in human retina with antibodies against calretinin

J Comp Neurol. 2016 Jan 1;524(1):39-53. doi: 10.1002/cne.23821. Epub 2015 Jul 7.


Antibodies against calretinin are markers for one type of rod pathway interneuron (AⅡ amacrine cell) in the retina of some but not all mammalian species. The AⅡ cells play a crucial role in night-time (scotopic) vision and have been proposed as a target for optogenetic restoration of vision in retinal disease. In the present study we aimed to characterize the AⅡ cells in human retina. Postmortem human donor eyes were obtained with ethical approval and processed for calretinin immunofluorescence. Calretinin-positive somas in the inner nuclear and the ganglion cell layer were filled with the lipophilic dye DiI. The large majority (over 80%) of calretinin-immunoreactive cells is located in the inner nuclear layer, is immunopositive for glycine transporter 1, and shows the typical morphology of AⅡ amacrine cells. In addition, a small proportion of calretinin-positive cells in the inner nuclear layer and in the ganglion cell layer is glutamic acid decarboxylase-positive and shows the morphology of widefield amacrine cells (stellate, semilunar, and thorny amacrine cells). About half of the calretinin cells in the ganglion cell layer are bistratified ganglion cells resembling the small bistratified (presumed blue-ON/yellow-OFF) and the G17 ganglion cell previously described in primates. We conclude that in human retina, antibodies against calretinin can be used to identify AⅡ amacrine cells in the inner nuclear layer as well as widefield amacrine and small bistratified ganglion cells in the ganglion cell layer.

Keywords: AB_10000321; AB_10000342; AB_2314597; AB_528264; RRIDs: AB_398225; primate retina; rod pathway; scotopic vision; widefield amacrine cells.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Amacrine Cells / cytology*
  • Amacrine Cells / metabolism*
  • Antibodies / metabolism
  • Calbindin 2 / immunology
  • Calbindin 2 / metabolism*
  • Carbocyanines
  • Female
  • Fluorescent Antibody Technique / methods
  • Fluorescent Dyes
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Microscopy, Confocal
  • Middle Aged
  • Photomicrography
  • Retinal Ganglion Cells / cytology*
  • Retinal Ganglion Cells / metabolism*


  • 1,1'-dioleyl-3,3,3',3'-tetramethylindocarbocyanine
  • Antibodies
  • CALB2 protein, human
  • Calbindin 2
  • Carbocyanines
  • Fluorescent Dyes