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Brain Res Dev Brain Res. 2005 Jan 1;154(1):101-19.

Patterns of cell proliferation and cell death in the developing retina and optic tectum of the brown trout.

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Department of Cell Biology and Ecology, Faculty of Biology, University of Santiago de Compostela, 15782-Santiago de Compostela, Spain.


We have analyzed the patterns of cell proliferation and cell death in the retina and optic tectum of the brown trout (Salmo trutta fario) throughout embryonic and postembryonic stages. Cell proliferation was detected by immunohistochemistry with an antibody against the proliferating cell nuclear antigen (PCNA), and apoptosis by means of the TUNEL method. Haematoxylin and DAPI staining were also used to demonstrate apoptotic cells. Photoreceptor cell differentiation was assessed by immunohistochemistry with antibodies against opsins. Throughout embryonic development, PCNA-immunoreactive (PCNA-ir) cells become progressively restricted to the peripheral growth zone of the retina, which appears to be the principal source of new retinal cells from late embryos to adults. However, some PCNA-ir cells are observed secondarily in the differentiated retina, first in the inner nuclear layer of 15-mm alevins and later in the outer nuclear layer of 16-mm alevins, after differentiation of the first rods in the central retina, as demonstrated with opsin immunocytochemistry. Our observations also support the view that the PCNA-ir cells observed secondarily in the INL of the central retina of alevins are photoreceptor precursors. The number and distribution of apoptotic cells in the retina and optic tectum of the trout change throughout development, allowing distinction of several waves of apoptosis. Cell death is detected in proliferating areas at early stages, then in postmitotic or differentiating areas, and later concurring temporal and spatially with the establishment of visual circuits, thus indicating a relationship between apoptosis and proliferation, differentiation and synaptogenesis.

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