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J Comp Neurol. 1991 Sep 1;311(1):33-44.

Development of the rabbit retina: II. Müller cells.

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Carl Ludwig Institute of Physiology, Leipzig University, Frankfurt/Main, Germany.


Müller (glial) cells of the rabbit retina were stained with antibodies against the intermediate filament protein vimentin in retinal wholemounts from various developmental stages. Both the density of stained profiles and the mean diameter of these profiles were measured, with the microscope focus in the inner plexiform layer of the retinae. Within this retinal layer, every Müller cell possesses one stout vitread process; thus counts of the stained profiles allow an estimation of their number. After postnatal day (P) 9, the total number of stained cells was slightly above 4 million per retina; for the adult rabbit retina, this agrees well with earlier data obtained by our group based on another method, as well as with published data from other groups. We suggest that after P 9, only Müller cells are stained, and this population is numerically stable. In contrast, neonatal retinae contained significantly more stained profiles. This indicates that either the total number of Müller cells is reduced by "physiological cell death" or that additional cells are stained neonatally. We discuss why we favour the second possibility. After P 9, two peculiarities occur in the Müller cell population: (1) their density decreases gradually, to a greater extent in the retinal periphery than in the center (i.e., in the "visual streak"), and (2) Müller cell diameters increase, again more in the periphery than in the center. We argue that differential retinal expansion leads to dispersion of the pre-existing cell population and allows for widening of the Müller cell processes. We conclude that Müller cells can be used postnatally in the rabbit retina as "landmarks" of expansion.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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