Visual Neuroscience

Research Article

Retinal bipolar cells receive negative feedback input from GABAergic amacrine cells

Masao Tachibanaa1 and Akimichi Kanekoa1

a1 Department of Information Physiology, National Institute for Physiological Sciences, Okazaki 444, Japan


Bipolar cells make reciprocal synapses with amacrine cells in the inner plexiform layer; both feedforward connections and feedback connections are present. The physiological properties of the feedback synapse have not been well described. Since some amacrine cells are thought to be GABAergic, we examined bipolar cells for feedback input from γ-aminobtyric acid (GABA)ergic amacrine cells. Solitary bipolar cells were dissociated enzymatically from the goldfish retina. Cells were voltage clamped with a patch pipette and their GABA sensitivity was examined. GABA evoked responses in all bipolar cells with a large axon terminal, which were identified to be the rod dominant ON type, and in some bipolar cells with a small axon terminal. The highest GABA sensitivity was located at the axon terminal. The least effective dose was as low as 100 nM. A small insignificant response of high threshold was evoked when GABA was applied to the dendrite and soma. GABA increased the Cl conductance and caused membrane hyperpolarization. The bipolar cells had the GABAA receptor coupled with a benzodiazepine receptor. The GABA-evoked response was not susceptible to Co ions, which suppressed the GABA-induced responses in turtle cones by 50% at 5 fiM concentration. Incomplete desensitization was observed, suggesting that the GABAergic pathway seems capable of transmitting signals tonically. The present results strongly indicate that the rod-dominant ON-type bipolar cells and some bipolar cells with a small axon terminal receive negative feedback inputs from GABAergic amacrine cells.

(Received December 07 1987)

(Accepted March 30 1988)