Immunocytochemical identification of cone bipolar cells in the rat retina

J Comp Neurol. 1995 Oct 23;361(3):461-78. doi: 10.1002/cne.903610310.


We studied the morphology of bipolar cells in fixed vertical tissue sections of the rat retina by injecting the cells with Lucifer Yellow and neurobiotin. In addition to the rod bipolar cell, nine different putative cone bipolar cell types were distinguished according to the position of their somata in the inner nuclear layer and the branching pattern and stratification level of their axon terminals in the inner plexiform layer. Some of these bipolar cell populations were labeled immunocytochemically in vertical and horizontal sections using antibodies against the calcium-binding protein recoverin, the glutamate transporter GLT-1, the alpha isoform of the protein kinase C, and the Purkinje cell marker L7. These immunocytochemically labeled cell types were characterized in terms of cell density and distribution. We found that rod bipolar cells and GLT-1-positive cone bipolar cells occur at higher densities in a small region located in the upper central retina. This area probably corresponds to the central area, which is the region of highest ganglion cell density. A second peak of rod bipolar cell density in the lower temporal periphery matches the retinal area of binocular overlap. The population densities of the immunocytochemically characterized bipolar cells indicate that at least 50% of all bipolar cells are cone bipolar cells. The variety and total number of cone bipolar cells is surprising because the retina of the rat contains 99% rods. Our findings suggest that cone bipolar cells may play a more important role in the visual system of the rat than previously thought.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Biotin / analogs & derivatives
  • Biotin / metabolism
  • Cell Count
  • Fluorescent Dyes / metabolism
  • Immunohistochemistry
  • Isoquinolines / metabolism
  • Microscopy, Fluorescence
  • Neurons / metabolism
  • Neurons / ultrastructure
  • Rats
  • Retina / metabolism*


  • Fluorescent Dyes
  • Isoquinolines
  • neurobiotin
  • Biotin
  • lucifer yellow