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J Comp Neurol. 1989 Sep 8;287(2):164-78.

Dendritic maturation of displaced putative cholinergic amacrine cells in the rabbit retina.

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  • 1National Vision Research Institute of Australia, Carlton, Victoria.


The dendritic trees of Cb, cholinergic, amacrine cells in the ganglion cell layer of the developing rabbit retina are revealed by intracellular injection with Lucifer yellow to have the adult dendritic branching pattern at birth. It is demonstrated that these cells maintain a constant number of dendritic branches throughout postnatal development and that their dendritic trees increase in size by the growth and subsequent elongation of all branches. Proximal and distal dendrites increase in length by almost the same proportions between birth and adulthood. Although the adult pattern of dendritic branching of Cb amacrine cells is established by birth, dendrites in the young possess numerous short appendages (1-5 microns in length) resembling the "dendritic spines" of immature cat retinal ganglion cells. Some of these structures remain on the dendrites of adult cells but the majority are lost at the end of the third postnatal week. As dendritic spines disappear, the dendrites of Cb amacrine cells, especially the distal portion of the tree, acquire numerous varicosities. At each stage after P10, the gain in the number of varicosities greatly exceeds the loss in spines; this is not consistent with the hypothesis that all varicosities are retracted dendritic spines. The rapid increase in the number of varicosities on distal dendrites of Cb amacrine cells during the first 3 postnatal weeks coincides with the maturation of amacrine cell physiological responses. There is no distinct centroperipheral gradient in the postnatal dendritic maturation (acquisition of varicosities, loss of spines, attainment of the adult number of branches) of Cb amacrine cells from the visual streak to the peripheral retina. However, the area of their dendritic tree increases relatively more in the retinal periphery compared to that in the visual streak.

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