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Nonuniform retinal expansion during the formation of the rabbit's visual streak: Implications for the ontogeny of mammalian retinal topography

  • Stephen R. Robinson (a1), Bogdan Dreher (a1) and Murray J. McCall (a1)

Abstract

We have studied the distribution of retinal ganglion cells (RGCs) which have been retrogradely labeled from massive bilateral injections of the enzyme horseradish peroxidase into the retino-recipient nuclei of foetal and postnatal albino rabbits aged from the 24th postconceptional day (24PCD) to adulthood. The number of labeled RGCs increases from about 447,000 on the 24PCD to a peak of about 525,000 on the 27PCD. From the 29PCD to birth (31/32PCD), the number of RGCs rapidly declines to about 375,000. During the next 20 d, the number of RGCs stabilizes at about 335,000. After the 51PCD, the number of RGCs gradually declines to the adult value of about 280,000. Retinal area steadily increases from about 40 mm2 on the 24PCD to about 500 mm2 in the adult, while RGC density decreases. However, the reduction in RGC density is nonuniform: RGC density in the visual streak drops from 18,600 RGCs mm2 on the 24PCD to 4700 RGCs/mm2 in the adult, whereas RGC densities at the superior and inferior edges of the retina decrease proportionally much more (from 9300 to 105 RGCs/mm2 and from 12,000 to 170 RGCs/mm2, respectively). As a result of this differential reduction in RGC density, the streak:superior edge RGC density ratio changes from 2.0:1 on the 24PCD to about 45:1 in the adult, while the streak/inferior edge ratio changes from 1.6:1 to about 28:1. In the periods from the 24PCD to the 29PCD and from the 32PCD to adulthood, the proportional increases in the streak/superior edge and streak/inferior edge RGC density ratios are linearly related to the proportional increases in retinal area. However, between the 29PCD and 32PCD, the RGC density ratios increase at a greater rate than retinal area. We conclude that (1) the centro-peripheral difference in RGC density that is already present on the 24PCD might be attributable to differential RGC generation; (2) the redistribution of RGCs between the 24PCD and adulthood is mainly due to nonuniform expansion of the retina, with minimal expansion of the visual streak and maximal expansion at the superior and inferior retinal edges; and (3) a small component of the increase in the centro-peripheral RGC density ratio, which becomes apparent between the 29PCD and 32PCD, is probably due to differential RGC loss. We discuss the pattern of retinal expansion in the rabbit and the factors which might contribute to it.

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Nonuniform retinal expansion during the formation of the rabbit's visual streak: Implications for the ontogeny of mammalian retinal topography

  • Stephen R. Robinson (a1), Bogdan Dreher (a1) and Murray J. McCall (a1)

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