Amacrine cell subtypes differ in their intrinsic neurite growth capacity

Noelia J. Kunzevitzky, Kevin T. Willeford, William J. Feuer, Monica V. Almeida, Jeffrey L. Goldberg

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Scopus citations


Purpose. Amacrine cell neurite patterning has been extensively studied in vivo, and more than 30 subpopulations with varied morphologies have been identified in the mammalian retina. It is not known, however, whether the complex amacrine cell morphology is determined intrinsically, is signaled by extrinsic cues, or both. Methods. Here we purified rat amacrine cell subpopulations away from their retinal neighbors and glial-derived factors to ask questions about their intrinsic neurite growth ability. In defined medium strongly trophic for amacrine cells in vitro, we characterized survival and neurite growth of amacrine cell subpopulations defined by expression of specific markers. Results. We found that a series of amacrine cell subtype markers are developmentally regulated, turning on through early postnatal development. Subtype marker expression was observed in similar fractions of cultured amacrine cells as was observed in vivo, and was maintained with time in culture. Overall, amacrine cell neurite growth followed principles very similar to those in postnatal retinal ganglion cells, but embryonic retinal ganglion cells demonstrated different features, relating to their rapid axon growth. Surprisingly, the three subpopulations of amacrine cells studied in vitro recapitulated quantitatively and qualitatively the varied morphologies they have in vivo. Conclusions. Our data suggest that cultured amacrine cells maintain intrinsic fidelity to their identified in vivo subtypes, and furthermore, that cell-autonomous, intrinsic factors contribute to the regulation of neurite patterning.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)7603-7613
Number of pages11
JournalInvestigative Ophthalmology and Visual Science
Issue number12
StatePublished - Oct 15 2013


  • Amacrine cells
  • Intrinsic neurite growth
  • Neurite patterning
  • Retinal development

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ophthalmology
  • Sensory Systems
  • Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience


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