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Histol Histopathol. 1995 Oct;10(4):947-68.

Substance P: a neurotransmitter of amacrine and ganglion cells in the vertebrate retina.

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John Moran Eye Center, University of Utah School of Medicine, Salt Lake City 84132, USA.


A short history and summary of the occurrence of substance P in the vertebrate body is presented. Substance P is now generally accepted to be a neurotransmitter and can be visualized by immunocytochemistry to occur in various nerve cells in the CNS. In the retina, substance P-immunoreactivity (SP-IR) occurs in amacrine cell populations in all the species so far studied. In some vertebrates retinas SP is also apparent in one or more ganglion cell types. Anatomical investigations have revealed the morphology and connectivity of SP-IR amacrine cells: they branch in several strata of the inner plexiform layer receiving input from bipolar and amacrine cells and making synapses upon bipolar and ganglion cells. Most commonly SP-IR amacrines emit axon-like process that pass to both the outer plexiform layer and the ganglion cell and nerve fiber layers. These processes often end upon the retinal vasculature. SP-IR ganglion cells have been described in turtle, rabbit and human retinas. In turtle, intracellular dye injection has revealed the morphology of one type of SP-IR ganglion cell as being a large-field monostratified cell with a branches in the outer stratum of the inner plexiform layer. It may correspond to a "Dogiel cell" type. Intracellular investigation of SP-IR amacrine cells in turtle reveal their physiological responses to be ON-OFF in nature with some color-coding characteristics. In general SP acts as an excitatory neurotransmitter raising the spontaneous activity level of ganglion cell responses. The SP-IR ganglion cell is an OFF-center unit in the turtle retina and may be driven in the center of its receptive field by luminosity bipolar cells and in its surround by amacrine cells with color-opponent properties.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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