Wavy multistratified amacrine cells in the monkey retina contain immunoreactive secretoneurin

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The goals of this study were to describe the morphology, neurotransmitter content and synaptic connections of neurons in primate retinas that contain the neuropeptide secretoneurin. Amacrine cells were labeled with antibodies to secretoneurin in macaque and baboon retinas. Their processes formed three distinct plexuses in the inner plexiform layer: one in the outermost stratum, one in the center and one in the innermost stratum. In light microscopic double immunolabeling experiments, GABA was colocalized with secretoneurin in these cells, but glycine transporter 1 and Substance P were not. ON bipolar cell axon terminals labeled with antibody to the cholecystokinin precursor, G6-gly, have ON responses to stimulation of short wavelength sensitive (S) cones. Axons of these bipolar cells made contacts with amacrine cell dendrites containing secretoneurin. Secretoneurin-IR amacrine cells also made contacts with retinal ganglion cell dendrites labeled with antibody to the photopigment melanopsin, which have OFF responses to stimulation of S cones. Using electron microscopic immunolabeling, 436 synapses from macaque retina were analyzed. Axons from bipolar cells were identified by their characteristic synaptic ribbons; their synaptic densities were asymmetric like those of excitatory synapses in the brain. Amacrine cells made and received conventional synapses with symmetric synaptic densities, like those of inhibitory synapses in the brain. Ganglion cell dendrites were identified by their absence of presynaptic specializations; they received inputs from both amacrine cells and bipolar cells. The majority of inputs to the secretoneurin-IR amacrine cells were from other amacrine cells, but they also received 21% of their input from bipolar cells. They directed most of their output, 54%, to amacrine cells, but there were many synapses onto bipolar cell axons and ganglion cell dendrites, as well. The synaptic connections were very similar in the three plexuses with one notable exception; output synapses to bipolar cells were significantly less common in the innermost one, where the S-ON bipolar cells terminate. Taken together, these findings suggest that the secretoneurin-IR amacrine cells in primates receive excitatory input from S-ON bipolar cells and, in turn, inhibit intrinsically photosensitive retinal ganglion cells.

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