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Neuron. 1998 May;20(5):971-82.

Extreme diversity among amacrine cells: implications for function.

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Howard Hughes Medical Institute, Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston 02114, USA.


We report a quantitative survey of the population of amacrine cells present in the retina of the rabbit. The cells' dendritic shape and level of stratification were visualized by a photochemical method in which a fluorescent product was created within an individual cell by focal irradiation of that cell's nucleus. A systematically random sample of 261 amacrine cells was examined. Four previously known amacrine cells were revealed at their correct frequencies. Our central finding is that the heterogeneous collection of other amacrine cells is broadly distributed among at least 22 types: only one type of amacrine cell makes up more than 5% of the total amacrine cell population. With these results, the program of identification and classification of retinal neurons begun by Cajal is nearing completion. The complexity encountered has implications both for the retina and for the many regions of the central nervous system where less is known.

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