Pflügers Archiv

, Volume 339, Issue 4, pp 289–298 | Cite as

The effect of iontophoretically applied acetylcholine upon the cat's retinal ganglion cells

  • Max Straschill
  • Joachim Perwein


The effect of iontophoretically applied acetylcholine was tested in 278 retinal ganglion cells of the cat.

26% of 122 ganglion cells were influenced by acetylcholine. In animals, which were pretreated with intravenously administered physostigmine, the proportion of acetylcholine sensitive cells rose to 87%. Acetylcholine had a differential effect upon retinal reaction types. Off-center neurons were excited, On-center neurons were inhibited. The time course of the acetylcholine effect resembled that observed in the cerebral cortex. In a considerable proportion of units, the effect used to diminish with repeated application of the drug (desensitation).

Intravenously applied atropine blocked the excitatory response of Off-center neurons to acetylcholine, but failed to prevent acetylcholine inhibition of On-center neurons. The excitatory response appears thus predominantly mediated by muscarinic receptors. Nicotinic receptors are obviously of little importançe in mediating the response to acetylcholine, since acetylcholine sensitivity remained unchanged after intravenous injection of the curariform agent dihydro-β-erythroidine. Present histochemical and histological knowledge together with our results suggest, that the response of retinal ganglion cells to light stimulation of their receptive field periphery is possibly transmitted through cholinergic amacrine cells.

Key words

Acetylcholine Physostigmine Microelectrophoresis Ganglion Cells Retina 


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 1973

Authors and Affiliations

  • Max Straschill
    • 1
  • Joachim Perwein
    • 1
  1. 1.Max-Planck-Institut für PsychiatrieMünchen 40Germany

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