Synapses between cones and diffuse bipolar cells of a primate retina

J Neurocytol. 1995 Sep;24(9):680-94. doi: 10.1007/BF01179818.


The photoreceptor synapses of three representative cells of the six types of diffuse bipolar cell of the rhesus macaque monkey's retina are described at 3.5-4.0 mm eccentricity. Bipolar cell DB3 was found to be postsynaptic to 11 cones at 155 basal synapses; about 70% of these were triad associated. Bipolar cell DB4 as postsynaptic to eight cones at 52 ribbon synapses; in addition it was found also to make an average of two or three basal (non-ribbon) synapses per cone (total 23). The DB5 bipolar cell type had 57 invaginating synapses with seven cones. It too had basal synapses, but only two with each of three cones. The diffuse invaginating bipolar cell described by Mariani (1981) is identified as a member of the DB5 category. Dendrites of cone bipolar cell types which have axons ending in the a-layer of the inner plexiform layer make only basal synapses with the cone pedicle. Those so far investigated are the flat midget bipolar cell and the DB2 and DB3 flat diffuse bipolar cells. All bipolar cells whose axons terminate in the b-layer of the inner plexiform layer are postsynaptic at the ribbon synapses of the cone pedicles. They now appear to fall into two groups. Those whose dendrites are exclusively postsynaptic at the ribbons; these are the blue cone and invaginating midget bipolar cells. And the diffuse bipolar cell DB4, that has both ribbon and basal synapses in a ratio of about 2.3:1. It is uncertain into which category cell DB5 should be placed; its basal synapses are so few the cell could be anomalous. It now seems that at least one primate bipolar cell type may be like those of other vertebrates in having, as defined ultrastructurally, two different kinds of synaptic connection with its cones. The results are discussed in the context of a brief review of the photoreceptor synapses of other mammalian bipolar cells.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Axons / ultrastructure
  • Dendrites / ultrastructure
  • Female
  • Macaca mulatta
  • Microscopy, Electron
  • Retina / ultrastructure*
  • Retinal Cone Photoreceptor Cells / ultrastructure*
  • Synapses / ultrastructure*