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      Morphology of human retinal ganglion cells with intraretinal axon collaterals.

      Visual Neuroscience

      Axons, ultrastructure, Biotin, analogs & derivatives, Dendrites, Horseradish Peroxidase, Humans, In Vitro Techniques, Retina, Retinal Ganglion Cells, cytology

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          Ganglion cells with intraretinal axon collaterals have been described in monkey (Usai et al., 1991), cat (Dacey, 1985), and turtle (Gardiner & Dacey, 1988) retina. Using intracellular injection of horseradish peroxidase and Neurobiotin in in vitro whole-mount preparations of human retina, we filled over 1000 ganglion cells, 19 of which had intraretinal axon collaterals and wide-field, spiny dendritic trees stratifying in the inner half of the inner plexiform layer. The axons were smooth and thin (approximately 2 microm) and gave off thin (<1 microm), bouton-studded terminal collaterals that extended vertically to terminate in the outer half of the inner plexiform layer. Terminal collaterals were typically 3-300 microm in length, though sometimes as long as 700 microm, and were present in clusters, or as single branched or unbranched varicose processes with round or somewhat flattened lobular terminal boutons 1-2 microm in diameter. Some cells had a single axon whereas other cells had a primary axon that gave rise to 2-4 axon branches. Axons were located either in the optic fiber layer or just beneath it in the ganglion cell layer, or near the border of the ganglion cell layer and the inner plexiform layer. This study shows that in the human retina, intraretinal axon collaterals are associated with a morphologically distinct ganglion cell type. The synaptic connections and functional role of these cells are not yet known. Since distinct ganglion cell types with intraretinal axon collaterals have also been found in monkey, cat, and turtle, this cell type may be common to all vertebrate retinas.

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