Gamma-aminobutyric acidA receptors on a bistratified amacrine cell type in the rabbit retina

J Comp Neurol. 1998 Apr 13;393(3):309-19. doi: 10.1002/(sici)1096-9861(19980413)393:3<309::aid-cne4>;2-5.


Gamma-Aminobutyric acid (GABA) is considered to be a major inhibitory neurotransmitter in the inner plexiform layer of the retinas of all vertebrate species. It is contained in and released from nearly 40% of the amacrine cells and is known to play a major role in many aspects of visual processing. By using well-characterized antibodies to several subunits of the GABA(A) receptor, we have analyzed their localization on the cell bodies and dendritic trees of two amacrine cell populations in the rabbit retina, which have been either filled intracellularly with Lucifer yellow or stained immunohistochemically. Both populations are selectively stained by intravitreal injection of the fluorescent nuclear dye 4',6-diaminidin-2-phenylindoldihydrochloride (DAPI). We have found that the most significant concentration of the alpha1 and beta2/3 GABA(A) receptor subunits is localized to the DAPI-3 type amacrine cell. The perikarya of the DAPI-3 cells are found in the proximal inner nuclear layer and send their processes into two sublayers in sublaminae a and b of the inner plexiform layer. These processes abut but do not directly overlap those of the two mirror-symmetric populations of starburst amacrine cells. Because the cell bodies of the DAPI-3 cells are the only ones in the inner nuclear layer that stain strongly for either the alpha1 or beta2/3 subunits, such staining is a diagnostic feature of these cells. Their processes also constitute the most strongly staining ones found within the inner plexiform layer. The dendritic trees of DAPI-3 cells, which range from about 150 microm up to about 300 microm, exhibit recurvate looping processes reminiscent of those described for directionally selective ganglion cells. In contrast to the DAPI-3 cell, we have also shown that the starburst amacrine cells exhibit no immunoreactivity for the alpha1 GABA(A) receptor subunit and very little for the beta2/3 subunit. Thus, we have shown that the DAPI-3 cells contain the highest concentrations of the alpha1 and beta2/3 GABA(A) receptor subunits in the rabbit retina. These cells, which costratify near the processes of both the starburst amacrine cells and the ON-OFF directionally selective ganglion cells, thus, are situated both anatomically and by virtue of their receptor content to potentially interact.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Dendrites / chemistry
  • Immunohistochemistry
  • Microscopy, Fluorescence
  • Rabbits
  • Receptors, GABA-A / analysis*
  • Receptors, GABA-A / immunology
  • Retina / cytology*
  • Retina / metabolism*
  • Retina / physiology
  • Staining and Labeling


  • Receptors, GABA-A