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Expression of alpha 7 nicotinic acetylcholine receptors by bipolar, amacrine, and ganglion cells of the rabbit retina.

The journal of histochemistry and cytochemistry : official journal of the Histochemistry Society (2006-12-26)
Nina A Dmitrieva, Christianne E Strang, Kent T Keyser

Cholinergic agents affect the light responses of many ganglion cells (GCs) in the mammalian retina by activating nicotinic acetylcholine receptors (nAChRs). Whereas retinal neurons that express beta2 subunit-containing nAChRs have been characterized in the rabbit retina, expression patterns of other nAChR subtypes remain unclear. Therefore, we evaluated the expression of alpha7 nAChRs in retinal neurons by means of single-, double-, and triple-label immunohistochemistry. Our data demonstrate that, in the rabbit retina, several types of bipolar cells, amacrine cells, and cells in the GC layer express alpha7 nAChRs. At least three different populations of cone bipolar cells exhibited alpha7 labeling, whereas glycine-immunoreactive amacrine cells comprised the majority of alpha7-positive amacrine cells. Some GABAergic amacrine cells also displayed alpha7 immunoreactivity; alpha7 labeling was never detected in rod bipolar cells or rod amacrine cells (AII amacrine cells). Our data suggest that activation of alpha7 nAChRs by acetylcholine (ACh) or choline may affect glutamate release from several types of cone bipolar cells, modulating GC responses. ACh-induced excitation of inhibitory amacrine cells might cause either inhibition or disinhibition of other amacrine and GC circuits. Finally, ACh may act on alpha7 nAChRs expressed by GCs themselves.

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