The occurrence of dopaminergic interplexiform cells correlates with the presence of cones in the retinae of fish

Vis Neurosci. Mar-Apr 1995;12(2):359-69. doi: 10.1017/s0952523800008038.


Using light-microscopic immunocytochemistry against tyrosine hydroxylase, we have investigated the morphology of dopaminergic cells in 23 species of fishes representing various systematic classes and subclasses and which live in very different habitats. We have, for the first time, observed teleosts with dopaminergic amacrine cells. Thus, in both bony and cartilaginous fishes, dopaminergic cells are differentiated as interplexiform and amacrine cells. The differentiation of dopaminergic cells into amacrine or interplexiform cells in fishes correlates with the absence or presence of cones. In pure-rod retinae, they occur as amacrine cells, and in mixed rod/cone retinae, they occur as interplexiform cells. We conclude therefore that the differentiation of retinal dopaminergic cells in fish does not depend on the evolutionary or systematic classification of a given species. Rather, it is correlated with the occurrence of rods and/or cones, and thus linked more closely to the habitat. We argue that, in fish, the presence of cones and cone-specific horizontal cells may be responsible for inducing dopaminergic cells to differentiate as interplexiform cells. Possible functions of dopamine in all-rod retinae, which may not require adaptation, may include neuromodulation in the inner plexiform layer for the sensitization of the rod pathway, the shaping of biological rhythms, and the control of eye growth.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cell Differentiation
  • Dopamine / analysis*
  • Fishes / anatomy & histology*
  • Fluorescent Antibody Technique
  • Nerve Tissue Proteins / analysis
  • Neurons / chemistry*
  • Retina / chemistry
  • Retina / cytology*
  • Retinal Cone Photoreceptor Cells / chemistry
  • Retinal Cone Photoreceptor Cells / cytology*
  • Retinal Rod Photoreceptor Cells / cytology
  • Tyrosine 3-Monooxygenase / analysis


  • Nerve Tissue Proteins
  • visinin
  • Tyrosine 3-Monooxygenase
  • Dopamine