Retinal horizontal cells of four rodent species, rat, mouse, gerbil, and guinea pig were examined to determine whether they conform to the basic pattern of two horizontal cell types found in other mammalian orders. Intracellular injections of Lucifer-Yellow were made to reveal the morphologies of individual cells. Immunocytochemistry with antisera against the calcium-binding proteins calbindin D-28k and parvalbumin was used to assess population densities and mosaics.
Lucifer-Yellow injections showed axonless A-type and axon-bearing B-type horizontal cells in guinea pig, but revealed only B-type cells in rat and gerbil retinae. Calbindin immunocytochemistry labeled the A-and B-type populations in guinea pig, but only a homogeneous regular mosaic of cells with B-type features in rat, mouse, and gerbil. All calbindin-immunoreactive horizontal cells in the latter species were also parvalbumin-immunoreactive; comparison with Nissl-stained retinae showed that both antisera label all of the horizontal cells. Taken together, the data from cell injections and the population studies provide strong evidence that rat, mouse, and gerbil retinae have only one type of horizontal cell, the axon-bearing B-type, where as the guinea pig has both A-and B-type cells. Thus, at least three members of the family Muridae differ from other rodents and deviate from the proposed mammalian scheme of horizontal cell types.
The absence of A-type cells is apparently not linked to any peculiarities in the photoreceptor populations, and there is no consistent match between the topographic distributions of the horizontal cells and those of the cone photoreceptors or ganglion cells across the four rodent species. However, the cone to horizontal cell ratio is rather similar in the species with and without A-type cells.