Cellular origin of intrinsic optical signals in the rabbit retina

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HIGHLIGHTSRetinal intrinsic signals vary as a function of stimulus parameters.Intrinsic signals are correlated with the b-wave of the ERG.Pharmacological tools indicate that intrinsic signals arises from the inner retina.Optical imaging of retinal intrinsic signals is a relatively new method that provides spatiotemporal patterns of retinal activity through activity-dependent changes in light reflectance of the retina. The exact physiological mechanisms at the origin of retinal intrinsic signals are poorly understood and there are significant inter-species differences in their characteristics and cellular origins. In this study, we re-examined this issue through pharmacological dissection of retinal intrinsic signals in the rabbit with simultaneous ERG recordings. Retinal intrinsic signals faithfully reflected retinal activity as their amplitude was strongly associated with stimulation intensity (r2 = 0.85). Further, a strong linear relation was found using linear regression (r2 = 0.98) between retinal intrinsic signal amplitude and the ERG b wave, which suggests common cellular origins. Intravitreal injections of pharmacological agents were performed to isolate the activity of the retina's major cell types. Retinal intrinsic signals were abolished when the photoreceptors’ activity was isolated with aspartate, indicative that they are not at the origin of this signal. A small but significant decrease in intrinsic response (20%) was observed when ganglion and amacrine cells’ activity was inhibited by TTX injections. The remaining intrinsic responses were abolished in a dose-dependent manner through the inhibition of ON-bipolar cells by APB. Our results indicate that, in rabbits, retinal intrinsic signals reflect stimulation intensity and originate from the inner retina with a major contribution of bipolar cells and a minor one from ganglion or amacrine cells.

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