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Colocalization of glutamate and glycine in bipolar cell terminals of the human retina

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Human retinae from surgical specimens rapidly fixed in a glutaraldehyde/formaldehyde mixture were subjected to postembedding, immunogold immunocytochemistry of glutamate and glycine, and subsequently analysed in an electron microscope. The two amino acids were visualised in the same tissue sections by the use of two different gold particle sizes. All bipolar cell perikarya and terminals showed significant glutamate labelling with mean gold particle densities 3–4 times higher than those of the retinal, non-neural pigment epithelial and Müller cells. Bipolar cell terminals displayed significantly higher glutamate labelling density than the bipolar cell bodies, as would be expected of glutamatergic neurons. A subpopulation of the glutamate-immunolabelled bipolar cell bodies (18%) and terminals (32%) also exhibited strong glycine labelling (7–8 times that of pigment epithelial and Müller cells). These glutamate-glycine positive terminals established contacts with amacrine cell processes and ganglion cell dendrites and were localised almost exclusively at between 44% and 88% depth of the inner plexiform layer, indicating that they belong to the “ON” cone bipolar system. This subpopulation of terminals was endowed with significantly higher glycine labelling density than the glycine positive bipolar cell bodies. These results show that human bipolar cell terminals colocalise glutamate and glycine and provide the first direct demonstration of an enrichment of these two amino acids in the same presynaptic element.

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Davanger, S., Storm-Mathisen, J. & Ottersen, O.P. Colocalization of glutamate and glycine in bipolar cell terminals of the human retina. Exp Brain Res 98, 342–354 (1994). https://doi.org/10.1007/BF00228422

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Key words

  • Glutamate
  • Glycine
  • Bipolar Cells
  • Retina
  • Human
  • Colocalization
  • Terminals