Antibody labeling of the calcium-binding protein calbindin 28kD (CaBP) and gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) is altered by short-term monocular deprivation in the lateral geniculate nucleus and visual cortex of adult primates. It is not known whether these alterations occur in other subcortical visual structures. We therefore have examined antibody labeling to CaBP and GABA in the superior colliculus (SC) of visually deprived Rhesus monkeys. One group was monocularly enucleated as adults. The other monkeys experienced different types of monocular and binocular deprivation from birth, including occlusion of one eye, and/or surgically induced aphakia, optically corrected with extended-wear contact lenses, or an intraocular lens implant. Some of these monkeys also had one eye enucleated prior to perfusion.
In the SC of normal monkeys, CaBP-immunoreactive neurons formed three laminar tiers within SC, one within the zonal layer (ZL) and upper superficial gray layer (SGL), another bridging the optic and intermediate gray layers, and a third within the deep gray layer. CaBP neurons within the upper tier had small pyriform or stellate morphologies while those in the deeper tiers were slightly larger neurons, most with a stellate morphology. GABA-immunoreactive neurons were densely distributed within the SGL and more sparsely distributed within the deeper layers. These cells were mostly small neurons with horizontal, pyriform, or stellate morphologies.
Neither monocular enucleation nor occlusion nor aphakia combined with continuous occlusion of the fellow eye produced any visible reduction in antibody labeling in cells or neuropil within the SC. Full-field measures of labeling intensity (optical density) within the ZL and upper SGL revealed no consistent differences between the SC contralateral or ipsilateral to the affected eye in either CaBP- or GABA-labeled sections. Measures of the optical density, number, and size of labeled neurons also showed no consistent effects of enucleation and/or occlusion. We therefore conclude that the retino-geniculostriate and retino-collicular systems differ in their response to deprivation which is likely due to the significant overlap of retinal axons from the two eyes that occurs in the SC of the Rhesus monkey.