Morphological identification of serotonin-accumulating neurons in the living retina

Science  25 Jul 1986:
Vol. 233, Issue 4762, pp. 444-446
DOI: 10.1126/science.3726538


Neurons that accumulate the transmitter serotonin have been identified in the living retina by being labeled with 5,7-dihydroxytryptamine (5,7-HT), an autofluorescent serotonin analog. Iontophoretic injection of Lucifer yellow into the labeled cells under microscopic control revealed that the serotonin-accumulating neurons in rabbit retina constitute two morphological types of amacrine cells, termed S1 and S2, whose distal dendrites are stratified at the inner margin of the inner plexiform layer. The dendritic overlap of the S1 type is extraordinarily large: each point on the retina is covered by the fields of 550 to 900 S1 amacrines, and 6 to 8 meters of their dendrites are packed into each square millimeter of retina. Such a pervasive neuropil may provide an effective substrate for diffuse transmitter release, as proposed for serotonergic fibers elsewhere in the central nervous system.