AII amacrine cells in the primate fovea contribute to photopic vision

Sci Rep. 2018 Nov 6;8(1):16429. doi: 10.1038/s41598-018-34621-2.


The AII amacrine cell is known as a key interneuron in the scotopic (night-vision) pathway in the retina. Under scotopic conditions, rod signals are transmitted via rod bipolar cells to AII amacrine cells, which split the rod signal into the OFF (via glycinergic synapses) and the ON pathway (via gap junctions). But the AII amacrine cell also has a "day job": at high light levels when cones are active, AII connections with ON cone bipolar cells provide crossover inhibition to extend the response range of OFF cone bipolar cells. The question whether AII cells contribute to crossover inhibition in primate fovea (where rods and rod bipolar cells are rare or absent) has not been answered. Here, immunohistochemistry and three-dimensional reconstruction show that calretinin positive cells in the fovea of macaque monkeys and humans have AII morphology and connect to cone bipolar cells. The pattern of AII connections to cone bipolar cells is quantitatively similar to that of AII cells outside the fovea. Our results support the view that in mammalian retina AII cells first evolved to serve cone circuits, then later were co-opted to process scotopic signals subsequent to the evolution of rod bipolar cells.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Amacrine Cells / cytology
  • Amacrine Cells / physiology*
  • Animals
  • Color Vision*
  • Connectome
  • Dark Adaptation
  • Female
  • Fovea Centralis / cytology
  • Fovea Centralis / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Macaca
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Retinal Bipolar Cells / physiology*
  • Retinal Cone Photoreceptor Cells / physiology*
  • Retinal Rod Photoreceptor Cells / physiology*
  • Visual Pathways / physiology*