Synaptic organization of GABAergic amacrine cells in the salamander retina.Vis Neurosci 2004 Nov-Dec; 21(6):817-25VN
The synaptic organization of GABA-immunoreactive (GABA-IR) amacrine cells in the inner plexiform layer (IPL) of salamander retina was studied with the use of postembedding immuno-electron microscopy. A total of 457 GABA-IR amacrine synapses, with identified postsynaptic elements, were analyzed on photomontages of electron micrographs covering 3,618 microm2 of the IPL. GABA-IR amacrine synapses were distributed throughout the IPL, with a small peak at the proximal margin of sublamina a. The majority of the output targets (81%) were GABA(-) neurons. Most of the contacts were simple synapses with one postsynaptic element identified as a process of an amacrine cell (55%), bipolar cell (19%) or ganglion cell (26%), and serial synapses were very rare. Of the 89 postsynaptic bipolar terminals, 63% participated in a reciprocal feedback synapse with the same presynaptic GABA-IR amacrine profile. There appeared to be no preference between GABA-IR amacrine contacts with rod- or cone-dominated bipolar cells (9.1% vs. 8.9%) or in the total number of amacrine synapses in sublaminas a and b (52% vs. 47%). The preponderance of amacrine cell input to bipolar cells in the OFF layer was derived from GABA-IR cells. These findings provide ultrastructural support to the existing physiological studies regarding the functional roles of the GABAergic amacrine cells in this species. Our results have added to the data base demonstrating that, in contrast to mammals, GABA-IR amacrine cells in amphibians and other nonmammals contact other amacrine cells more frequently, suggesting greater involvement of GABAergic amacrine cells in modulating lateral inhibitory pathways.