Published online by Cambridge University Press: 02 June 2009
A class 1 aldehyde dehydrogenase (ALDH) catalyzes oxidation of retinaldehyde to retinoic acid in bovine retina. We used immunocytochemistry and in situ hybridization to localize this enzyme in adult and fetal bovine retinas. Specific ALDH immunoreactivity was present in the cytoplasm of wide-field amacrine cells restricted in distribution to the dorsal part of the adult retina. The somata diameters ranged from ∼8 μ to ∼15 μ, and the cells increased in density from ∼125 cells/mm2 near the horizontal meridian to ∼425 cells/mm2 in the superior far periphery. The ALDH-positive cells had somata on both sides of the inner plexiform layer (IPL) and processes in two IPL strata. The majority of ALDH-positive cells were unreactive with antibodies against known amacrine cell enzymes and neurotransmitters, including GABA and glycine. The ALDH-positive amacrine cells also did not react with anti-cellular retinoic acid-binding protein, which was present in a subset of GABA-positive amacrine cells. In flat-mounted retinas processed by in situ hybridization, the larger ALDH-positive amacrine cells tended to be more heavily labeled. In addition to amacrine cells, Müller cell processes in the inner retina were weakly immunoreactive for ALDH; however, these glial cells did not contain ALDH mRNA. The pattern of ALDH expression in fetal bovine retinas was documented by immunocytochemistry. No ALDH reactivity was found before 5.5 months; for the remainder of the fetal period, ALDH immunoreactivity was present in amacrine cells similar to those in adult retina. The ALDH-positive amacrine cells in bovine retina are novel, being limited in distribution to the dorsal retina and unlabeled with other amacrine cell-specific markers. Identification of ALDH in amacrine cells provides additional evidence that cells of the inner retina are involved in retinoid metabolism.