Number and dendritic morphology of retinal ganglion cells that survived after axotomy in adult cats

J Neurobiol. 1995 Jun;27(2):189-203. doi: 10.1002/neu.480270206.


Retinal ganglion cells (RGCs) of adult cats were labeled by injection of diI into the proximal stump of completely transected optic nerves. Approximately 2% to 5% of the RGC population appeared viable 2 months after these axotomies, based on diI retention. The morphological type and dendritic arbor of these surviving RGCs were examined after intracellular injections of Lucifer Yellow into diI-labeled RGCs. Postaxotomy survival rate was much higher for alpha-like cells than for beta-like cells. However, in one of four retinas examined, a large number of RGCs seemed to survive axotomy, and among these, beta cells survived at an unusually high rate. Dendritic arbors of surviving RGCs were also examined after intracellular injection of horseradish peroxidase. Some dendrites of these RGCs lacked branches and were thin in caliber. Other dendrites displayed many spiny processes and bulbous swellings. Essentially, these results confirm the previous suggestion that alpha cells survive axotomy longer than beta cells. The ability of alpha cells to regenerate axons may thus be attributable to their relatively high resistance to axotomy. The atypical dendritic profiles seen after optic nerve transection may reflect either degeneration or regrowth of dendrites.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Axons / physiology*
  • Carbocyanines
  • Cats
  • Cell Count
  • Cell Survival / physiology
  • Dendrites / ultrastructure*
  • Female
  • Fluorescent Dyes
  • Horseradish Peroxidase
  • Isoquinolines
  • Male
  • Optic Nerve / physiology
  • Retinal Ganglion Cells / ultrastructure*


  • Carbocyanines
  • Fluorescent Dyes
  • Isoquinolines
  • 3,3'-dioctadecylindocarbocyanine
  • lucifer yellow
  • Horseradish Peroxidase