Cholinoceptive neurons in the retina of the chick: an immunohistochemical study of the nicotinic acetylcholine receptors.

Academic Article


  • Monoclonal antibodies directed against nicotinic acetylcholine receptors (nAChRs) were used to identify and characterize cholinoceptive neurons in the chick retina. Two monoclonal antibodies (mAbs), mAb 210 and mAb 270, stained many neurons in both the inner nuclear layer (INL) and ganglion cell layer (GCL). A class of large labeled cells in the inner INL were positioned at the INL/IPL (inner plexiform layer) border and resembled displaced ganglion cells (DGCs). Their identity was confirmed with injections of rhodamine-labeled microspheres into the ventral tectum and nucleus of the basal optic root (nBOR). Four days after the injection, large nAChR-positive neurons in the inner INL were labeled with beads. The distribution of these cells matched that reported for DGCs in the chicken and pigeon (Reiner et al., 1979; Fite et al., 1981). Many smaller cells in the INL also exhibited nAChR immunoreactivity. These cells were not retrogradely labeled after bead injections into retinal recipient areas. Their processes entered IPL where they arborized in a band comprised of the inner leaflet of lamina 1 and all of lamina 2. In some instances, a process continued inward to lamina 4. These neurons were tentatively identified as amacrine cells because of their position and branching pattern. Approximately 12-18% of the cells in the GCL exhibited nAChR immunoreactivity. Many of these cells could be classified as ganglion cells as their axons were also labeled following exposure to nAChR antibodies. Their distribution mirrored that of all ganglion cells with a higher density of cells in the central retina than in the periphery (Ehrlich, 1981). A "double label" technique was used to compare the distribution of nAChR-positive neurons with that of the choline acetyltransferase-positive (ChAT), cholinergic neurons in the chick retina. The two antigens were visualized with two different fluorophores: FITC and RITC. We were unable to find any cells in either the INL or GCL that exhibited both ChAT- and nAChR-like immunoreactivity. The nAChR-positive cells and the ChAT-positive cells both arborized in two bands within the IPL. The patterns were in perfect register in the inner IPL (lamina 4). But, in the outer IPL, the nAChR-positive dendrites were observed in the inner leaflet of lamina 1 and in all of lamina 2 while the ChAT-positive dendrites did not extend into the innermost portion of lamina 2.
  • Published In


  • Acetylcholine, Animals, Antibodies, Monoclonal, Chickens, Choline O-Acetyltransferase, Fluorescent Antibody Technique, Immunoenzyme Techniques, Neurons, Receptors, Nicotinic, Retina, Retinal Ganglion Cells
  • Digital Object Identifier (doi)

    Author List

  • Keyser KT; Hughes TE; Whiting PJ; Lindstrom JM; Karten HJ
  • Start Page

  • 349
  • End Page

  • 366
  • Volume

  • 1
  • Issue

  • 4