Amino acid neurotransmitters in the retina: a functional overview

Vision Res. 1998 May;38(10):1371-84. doi: 10.1016/s0042-6989(97)00296-4.


Physiological and pharmacological mechanisms of glutamatergic, GABAergic and glycinergic synapses in the tiger salamander retina were studied. We used immunocytochemical and autoradiographic methods to study localizations of these neurotransmitters and their uptake transporters; and electrophysiological methods (intracellular, extracellular and whole cell patch electrode recordings) to study the light responses, miniature postsynaptic currents and neurotransmitter-induced postsynaptic currents in various retinal neurons. Our results are consistent with the following scheme: Glutamate is used by the photoreceptor and bipolar cell output synapses and the release of glutamate is largely mediated by calcium-dependent vesicular processes. The postsynaptic glutamate receptors in DBCs are L-AP4 receptors, in HBCs, HCs and ganglion cells are the kainate/AMPA and NMDA receptors. Subpopulations of HCs make GABAergic synapses on cones and gate chloride condunctance through GABAA receptors. GABAergic HCs do not make feedforward synapses on bipolar cell dendrites and the neurotransmitter identity of the HCs making feedforward synapses is unknown. Subpopulations of amacrine cells make GABAergic synapses on bipolar cell synaptic terminals, other amacrine cells and ganglion cells and GABA gates chloride conductances in theses cells. Glycinergic amacrine cells make synapses on bipolar cell synaptic terminals, other amacrine cells and ganglion cells and glycine opens postsynaptic chloride channels. Glycinergic interplexiform cells make synapses on bipolar cells in the outer retina and glycine released from these cells open chloride channels in bipolar cell dendrites.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Ambystoma
  • Animals
  • Autoradiography
  • Glutamates / metabolism
  • Glycine / metabolism
  • Immunohistochemistry
  • In Vitro Techniques
  • Neurotransmitter Agents / analysis*
  • Neurotransmitter Agents / physiology
  • Patch-Clamp Techniques
  • Receptors, Glutamate / metabolism
  • Retina / chemistry*
  • Retina / physiology
  • Synaptic Transmission
  • gamma-Aminobutyric Acid / metabolism


  • Glutamates
  • Neurotransmitter Agents
  • Receptors, Glutamate
  • gamma-Aminobutyric Acid
  • Glycine