Histochemical localization of cytochrome oxidase activity in the visual system of the tree shrew:normal patterns and the effect of retinal impulse blockage

J Comp Neurol. 1988 Jun 22;272(4):562-78. doi: 10.1002/cne.902720409.


The tree shrew Tupaia belangeri has three functional pathways (ON-center, OFF-center, and W-like cells) that arise in the retina and proceed through separate LGN laminae to separate cortical targets. To determine whether these pathways have consistent differences in activity, cytochrome oxidase (C.O.) patterns were examined in the retina, LGN, and striate cortex. In six normal tree shrews the outer and inner plexiform layers of the retina were highly reactive for C.O. A pale, vascularized cleft zone separated the a (OFF) and b (ON) inner plexiform sublaminae, which seemed about equally reactive for C.O. In the LGN, laminae 1 and 2 (ON-center cells) and laminae 4 and 5 (mostly OFF-center cells) were highly reactive for C.O. LGN lamina 3 and 6 are part of an W-like afferent pathway. Lamina 3 was distinctly paler than laminae 1, 2, 4, and 5 while lamina 6 was intermediate. In the striate cortex, layer IV was the most reactive layer. Sublayer IVb (predominantly an OFF region) was consistently more reactive than sublayer IVa (predominantly ON). The middle portion, layer IVm, was paler than either IVa or IVb. This paler region includes, but extends above and below, the cell-sparse "cleft" region. Thus, considering all three levels of the retinogeniculostriate pathway, the ON and OFF systems were equally active until they reached the striate cortex, where the OFF system appeared to be more active than the ON. The W-cell laminae in the LGN exhibited the lowest level of activity. The contribution of ganglion cell activity to these patterns was assessed by intravitreal administration of tetrodotoxin (TTX) blockade either monocularly (three animals) or binocularly (two animals). In the TTX-treated retinae, the inner plexiform a and b sublaminae were paler for C.O., although visible, and were still separated by the pale cleft. The ganglion cell layer was very pale in comparison to the normal. In the LGN, monocular TTX blockade reduced the C.O. reactivity in the ON and OFF laminae that received input from the treated eye but had little effect on the W-like cell laminae. The ipsilaterally innervated ON and OFF laminae were more affected than were the contralaterally innervated laminae. Binocular TTX treatment resulted in a decrease of C.O. activity in the binocular segment of the ON and OFF LGN laminae. In the striate cortex, the most marked changes following TTX treatment occurred in layer IV.(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 400 WORDS)

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Electron Transport Complex IV / metabolism*
  • Geniculate Bodies / enzymology*
  • Histocytochemistry
  • Nerve Block
  • Reference Values
  • Retina / enzymology*
  • Retina / innervation
  • Tetrodotoxin / pharmacology
  • Tissue Distribution
  • Tupaiidae / metabolism*
  • Visual Cortex / enzymology*


  • Tetrodotoxin
  • Electron Transport Complex IV