Cell and Tissue Research

, Volume 161, Issue 4, pp 521–540 | Cite as

The retinal pigment epithelium and photoreceptor cells light-and electron microscopic studies on monkey eyes

  • Niels Bülow


In the perifoveal retina of the monkey, Cercopithecus aethiops, the melanin granules are accumulated in apical cytoplasmatic protrusions of the pigment epithelial cells, facing the end of the cones. The rods are inserted deeper into the pigment epithelium than the cones; they reach the bottom of the infoldings of the apical surface membrane of the pigment epithelial cells. No melanin granules or other inclusions are situated at the end of the rods. The outer extremity of the rods is considerably inclined and in sections often appears as groups of rod discs which are incompletely or completely separated from the main part of the outer segments. This separation is regarded as an artifact caused by the inclination of the rods, and it is therefore not considered to represent phagocytosis of the outer segments by the pigment epithelium.

The inclusions of the pigment epithelial cells are classified in five categories which seem to be related to each other owing to their shared structural characteristics. It is suggested that melanin granules are produced, modified and destroyed by the pigment epithelial cells of the adult.

Because of the relations between the photoreceptors and the melanin granules it is suggested that light scattered by the melanin granules may pass backwards through the outer segments of the cones, but not of the rods.

Key words

Retina Pigment epithelium Photoreceptors Phagocytosis Melanogenesis 


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 1975

Authors and Affiliations

  • Niels Bülow
    • 1
  1. 1.Laboratory of Electron Microscopy, Anatomy Department AUniversity of CopenhagenCopenhagenDenmark

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