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J Cell Sci. 1984 Mar;66:95-118.

A neurofibrillar method stains solitary (primary) cilia in the mammalian retina: their distribution and age-related changes.


Richardson's reduced silver method, developed for the staining of autonomic nerve fibres in the mammalian intestine, is shown consistently to stain solitary (primary) cilia and diplosomes of the cells of the retinae of cats and rabbits. The cilia comprise a centriole, a basal body and an axoneme with a 9 + 0 complement of microtubules. Probably all retinal cells possess a cilium during their development but, contrary to previous reports, not all retain the axoneme after birth. Axonemes are absent from horizontal, bipolar, microglia, Müllerian, and probably some other glial, cells; all of which showed paired centrioles (diplosomes) after staining. Photoreceptor, amacrine, interplexiform, displaced amacrine and ganglion cells have each one cilium. These differences between cell types persist, without significant change, in the retina of adult rabbits up to the age of 2 years, and in the cat up to 5 years. The alpha-type ganglion cells of the cat are an exception. In 4 to 8-week-old kittens they are all ciliated, like other types of ganglion cells. But by two years about 30% of central area alpha-cells lack an axoneme. Individual cells may have only diplosomes, unusual dispositions of the centrioles in the perikaryal cytoplasm, or even show complete loss of the whole ciliary apparatus. By 5 years of age the proportion of those alpha-cells showing unusual arrangements has increased to approximately 70%, while less than 5% of the other types of ganglion cells are so affected. Cilia of peripheral alpha-cells change at a different rate and by 5 years of age are approximately like the 2-year-old central area population.

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