The major cell populations of the mouse retina

J Neurosci. 1998 Nov 1;18(21):8936-46. doi: 10.1523/JNEUROSCI.18-21-08936.1998.


We report a quantitative analysis of the major populations of cells present in the retina of the C57 mouse. Rod and cone photoreceptors were counted using differential interference contrast microscopy in retinal whole mounts. Horizontal, bipolar, amacrine, and Müller cells were identified in serial section electron micrographs assembled into serial montages. Ganglion cells and displaced amacrine cells were counted by subtracting the number of axons in the optic nerve, learned from electron microscopy, from the total neurons of the ganglion cell layer. The results provide a base of reference for future work on genetically altered animals and put into perspective certain recent studies. Comparable data are now available for the retinas of the rabbit and the monkey. With the exception of the monkey fovea, the inner nuclear layers of the three species contain populations of cells that are, overall, quite similar. This contradicts the previous belief that the retinas of lower mammals are "amacrine-dominated", and therefore more complex, than those of higher mammals.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Axons / ultrastructure
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred C57BL
  • Microscopy, Confocal
  • Microscopy, Electron
  • Microscopy, Fluorescence
  • Microscopy, Interference
  • Retina / cytology*
  • Retina / ultrastructure
  • Retinal Cone Photoreceptor Cells / cytology
  • Retinal Cone Photoreceptor Cells / ultrastructure
  • Retinal Ganglion Cells / cytology
  • Retinal Ganglion Cells / ultrastructure
  • Retinal Rod Photoreceptor Cells / cytology
  • Retinal Rod Photoreceptor Cells / ultrastructure