Synaptic relationships in the plexiform layers of carp retina

  • Paul Witkovsky
  • John E. Dowling


The synaptic contacts made by carp retinal neurons were studied with electron microscopic techniques. Three kinds of contacts are described: (1) a conventional synapse in which an accumulation of agranular vesicles is found on the presynaptic side along with membrane densification of both pre- and postsynaptic elements; (2) a ribbon synapse in which a presynaptic ribbon surrounded by a halo of agranular vesicles faces two postsynaptic elements; and (3) close apposition of plasma membranes without any vesicle accumulation or membrane densification.

In the external plexiform layer, conventional synapses between horizontal cells are described. Horizontal cells possess dense-core vesicles about 1,000 Å in diameter. Membranes of adjacent horizontal cells of the same type (external, intermediate or internal) are found closely apposed over broad regions.

In the inner plexiform layer ribbon synapses occur only in bipolar cell terminals. The postsynaptic elements opposite the ribbon may be two amacrine processes or one amacrine process and one ganglion cell dendrite. Amacrine processes make conventional synaptic contacts onto bipolar terminals, other amacrine processes, amacrine cell bodies, ganglion cell dendrites and bodies. Amacrine cells possess dense-core vesicles. Ganglion cells are never presynaptic elements. Serial synapses between amacrine processes and reciprocal synapses between amacrine processes and bipolar terminals are described. The inner plexiform layer contains a large number of myelinated fibers which terminate near the layer of amacrine cells.


Amacrine Cell Plexiform Layer Horizontal Cell Ribbon Synapse External Plexiform Layer 
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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 1969

Authors and Affiliations

  • Paul Witkovsky
    • 1
    • 2
  • John E. Dowling
    • 1
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of Ophthalmology ResearchColumbia UniversityNew YorkUSA
  2. 2.School of MedicineThe Wilmer Institute, The Johns Hopkins UniversityBaltimoreUSA

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