Growth preferences of adult rat retinal ganglion cell axons in retinotectal cocultures

J Neurobiol. 1998 Jun 15;35(4):379-87.


We examined whether regenerating axons from adult rat ganglion cells are able to recognize their appropriate target region in vitro. Explants from adult rat retina were cocultured with embryonic sagittal midbrain slices in Matrigel. The midbrain sections contained the superior colliculus, the main target for retinal ganglion cell axons in rats, and the inferior colliculus. We observed a statistically significant preference of both temporal and nasal retinal axons to grow toward their appropriate target region (anterior and posterior superior colliculus, respectively). No preferential growth of retinal ganglion cell axons was detected in controls, for which retinal explants were cultured on their own. When retinal ganglion cell axons were given a choice between superior colliculus and inferior colliculus, axons from nasal retina preferentially grew toward the posterior superior colliculus and avoided the inferior colliculus. In contrast, temporal axons in the same assay did not show preference for either of the colliculi. These findings suggest that regenerating axons from adult rat retina are able to recognize target-specific guidance cues released from embryonic midbrain targets in vitro.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Axons / physiology*
  • Cell Division / physiology
  • Cell Survival / physiology
  • Coculture Techniques
  • Female
  • Mesencephalon / physiology
  • Rats
  • Rats, Sprague-Dawley
  • Retinal Ganglion Cells / cytology*
  • Superior Colliculi / cytology
  • Superior Colliculi / physiology*