Extracellular recordings were made from the isolated goldfish retina during superfusion with various serotonergic agonists and antagonists to determine the effects of these drugs on the maintained activity and response properties of the ganglion cells. Superfusion of the retina with serotonin (25–500 μM) increased the maintained activity of OFF-center ganglion cells and decreased the maintained activity of ON-center ganglion cells. In addition, serotonin also attenuated the excitatory responses to annular stimuli, suggesting a decrease in the strength of surround input to the ganglion cells. The effects of serotonin on OFF-center ganglion cells were mimicked by the nonselective 5-HT1, agonist 5-MeOT and the 5-HT1 receptor agonist 8-OH-DPAT, while only 5-MeOT mimicked the action of serotonin on ON-center ganglion cells. The effects of exogenously applied serotonin on the ganglion cells could be blocked by the mixed 5-HT1/5-HT2 receptor antagonist methysergide but not by the 5-HT2 receptor antagonist mianserin or the dopamine receptor antagonist haloperidol.
These results support previous anatomical and biochemical evidence that serotonin functions in a neurotransmitter or neuromodulatory role in the teleost retina and suggest that serotonin may be involved in modulating the maintained activity and surround input to the ganglion cells. The results also indicate that two different types of receptors may mediate the actions of serotonin in the ON and OFF pathways, respectively.