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Anat Rec. 1998 Sep;252(1):133-9.

Photoreceptor morphogenesis in the human retina: a scanning electron microscopic study.

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1
Department of Anatomy, All India Institute of Medical Sciences, New Delhi.

Abstract

There are a number of scanning electron microscopic (SEM) studies on retinal photoreceptors of vertebrates. However, most of these are concerned with the adult retina, and only a very few deal with developing photoreceptors. In man, SEM studies have not been carried out on photoreceptor morphogenesis during fetal or postnatal stages. Hence, the present study was undertaken to examine the sequential morphological changes in developing photoreceptors during different gestational ages in the human retina. Retinas of human fetuses of gestational ages of 10-25 weeks and from autopsy of a 5-month-old infant were processed for SEM. The observations show some new information on the morphogenesis of photoreceptors. At 10-11 weeks, the outer and inner neuroblastic zones are well developed and separated from each other by the layer of Chievitz. By 15-16 weeks, the photoreceptor precursors appear as spherical inner segments on the scleral surface of the outer neuroblastic zone. Cilia develop as small protrusions from the apical ends of the inner segments. Photoreceptor inner segments become arranged in mosaic pattern by 18-19 weeks. In the mosaic, large cone inner segments (putative blue cones) stand out prominently from the remaining small cone inner segments (prospective red/green cones). The rod inner segments are identifiable and show cilia. Between 19-20 and 24-25 weeks, the cone inner segments elongate and change in shape from spherical to oval. At 24-25 weeks, the outer segments develop from the distal ends of rod cilia. At this period, the inner segments of rods and cones are interconnected by protoplasmic projections. Although the precursors of both rods and cones appear to be in a similar state of development at 14-15 weeks gestation, the rods undergo morphological maturation earlier than do the cones. Photoreceptor development in the anterior retina lags behind that of the posterior retina by about 10 weeks. At 5 months after birth, the posterior retina possesses fully developed photoreceptors that are comparable to those of the adult. However, the photoreceptors in the ora serrata resemble those in the posterior retina of 24-25 weeks gestation.

PMID:
9737749
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
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