Cell types and cell circuits in human and non-human primate retina

Prog Retin Eye Res. 2020 Feb 5;100844. doi: 10.1016/j.preteyeres.2020.100844. Online ahead of print.


This review summarizes our current knowledge of primate including human retina focusing on bipolar, amacrine and ganglion cells and their connectivity. We have two main motivations in writing. Firstly, recent progress in non-invasive imaging methods to study retinal diseases mean that better understanding of the primate retina is becoming an important goal both for basic and for clinical sciences. Secondly, genetically modified mice are increasingly used as animal models for human retinal diseases. Thus, it is important to understand to which extent the retinas of primates and rodents are comparable. We first compare cell populations in primate and rodent retinas, with emphasis on how the fovea (despite its small size) dominates the neural landscape of primate retina. We next summarise what is known, and what is not known, about the postreceptoral neurone populations in primate retina. The inventories of bipolar and ganglion cells in primates are now nearing completion, comprising ~12 types of bipolar cell and at least 17 types of ganglion cell. Primate ganglion cells show clear differences in dendritic field size across the retina, and their morphology differs clearly from that of mouse retinal ganglion cells. Compared to bipolar and ganglion cells, amacrine cells show even higher morphological diversity: they could comprise over 40 types. Many amacrine types appear conserved between primates and mice, but functions of only a few types are understood in any primate or non-primate retina. Amacrine cells appear as the final frontier for retinal research in monkeys and mice alike.

Keywords: Amacrine cells; Bipolar cells; Ganglion cells; Human retina; Mouse retina; Non-human primate retina; Retinal circuitry.

Publication types

  • Review