Subgroup of alpha ganglion cells in the adult cat retina is immunoreactive for somatostatin

Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Date



Journal of Comparative Neurology








amacrine cells; immunocytochemistry; peptides; retinal ganglion cells


We have previously shown that two types of cells in the ganglion cell layer of the adult cat retina are immunoreactive for somatostatin (White et al., '90). One of the types was identified by morphological criteria as a wide‐field amacrine cell. The other cell type had a large, angular soma that resembled the alpha ganglion cell, but evidence was not available to identify it definitively as a ganglion cell. Both cell types were distributed preferentially in the inferior retina. In this report, we demonstrate that the two types of cell are, indeed, displaced amacrine cells and alpha ganglion cells. First, when retrograde tracers were injected into central visual targets, the immunoreactive large cells but not the displaced amacrine cells were found to be labeled. Second, after unilateral section of the optic nerve, the immunoreactive large cells disappeared from the retina on the lesioned side, but the displaced amacrine cells occurred in the same numbers in both retinae. In the periphery, the large cells ranged in diameter from 33 to 47 μm, comparable only to alpha ganglion cells (Boycott and Wässle, '74). An antiserum to parvalbumin was used to visualize the dendrites (Röhrenbeck and Wässle, '88) of somatostatin‐immunoreactive large cells. Based on dendritic stratification within the inner plexiform layer (Famiglietti and Kolb, '76), the somatostatin‐immunoreactive large cells were found to include both on‐center cells and off‐center cells, but were predominantly of the off‐center type. Within a local region, they were found to be arrayed with greater regularity than the overall population of alpha ganglion cells. These results indicate that alpha ganglion cells of the cat retina can be subdivided on the basis of their immunoreactive staining for somatostatin and suggest that the diversity of ganglion cells in the cat retina may be greater than has been recognized on the basis of morphological criteria alone. Copyright © 1991 Wiley‐Liss, Inc.

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