The primate retina is unusual among mammals in having a highly specialized fovea with a tightly-packed, all cone foveola; a high concentration of ganglion cells; and displacement of the inner retinal layers away from the fovea. High acuity and color vision are characteristic of and directly related to this organization. The details of primate retinal organization, especially of its development, are incomplete. In part, this is due to the lack of well preserved pre- and post-natal tissue. In contrast, a great deal is known about the behavioral development of primate visual function which creates a discrepancy in trying to relate behavioral to structural development. We have access to a large volume of human and monkey retinal tissue at the University of Washington. This proposal will utilize this valuable material to study primate fetal, infant, and adult retinal morphology. Modern neuroanatomical techniques will be used including light and EM, immunocytochemistry, in vitro uptake of 3H-labeled neurotransmitter candidates, Golgi impregnation, retrograde labeling of ganglion cells, computer morphometry, and double-label combinations of these methods. Projects will include a) an analysis of the neuronal, synaptic and neurotransmitter organization of the sublaminae within the inner plexiform layer, including their development; b) identification of neuronal pathways containing the putative neurotransmitters GABA, glycine, dopamine, glutamate and various peptides; c) determining the developmental sequence of the neuronal pathways in b; d) testing for the coexistence of two or more neurotransmitter candidates in single neurons; e) charting the development of the monkey fovea including a quantitative analysis of photoreceptor packing and the number and distribution of synapses, and a qualitative analysis of the change in cell morphology and the composition of the transient layer of Chievitz during maturation; and f) completing an anatomical study of human foveal development to ascertain when it becomes fully adult.

National Institute of Health (NIH)
National Eye Institute (NEI)
Research Project (R01)
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Visual Sciences A Study Section (VISA)
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University of Washington
Schools of Medicine
United States
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Springer, A D; Hendrickson, A E (2005) Development of the primate area of high acuity, 3: temporal relationships between pit formation, retinal elongation and cone packing. Vis Neurosci 22:171-85
Bumsted O'Brien, Keely M; Cheng, Hong; Jiang, Yibin et al. (2004) Expression of photoreceptor-specific nuclear receptor NR2E3 in rod photoreceptors of fetal human retina. Invest Ophthalmol Vis Sci 45:2807-12
Springer, A D; Hendrickson, A E (2004) Development of the primate area of high acuity. 2. Quantitative morphological changes associated with retinal and pars plana growth. Vis Neurosci 21:775-90
Springer, A D; Hendrickson, A E (2004) Development of the primate area of high acuity. 1. Use of finite element analysis models to identify mechanical variables affecting pit formation. Vis Neurosci 21:53-62
Cornish, Elisa E; Xiao, Ming; Yang, Zhantao et al. (2004) The role of opsin expression and apoptosis in determination of cone types in human retina. Exp Eye Res 78:1143-54
Sandercoe, Trent M; Geller, Scott F; Hendrickson, Anita E et al. (2003) VEGF expression by ganglion cells in central retina before formation of the foveal depression in monkey retina: evidence of developmental hypoxia. J Comp Neurol 462:42-54
Fischer, A J; Hendrickson, A; Reh, T A (2001) Immunocytochemical characterization of cysts in the peripheral retina and pars plana of the adult primate. Invest Ophthalmol Vis Sci 42:3256-63
Swain, P K; Hicks, D; Mears, A J et al. (2001) Multiple phosphorylated isoforms of NRL are expressed in rod photoreceptors. J Biol Chem 276:36824-30
Milam, A H; Hendrickson, A E; Xiao, M et al. (2000) Localization of tubby-like protein 1 in developing and adult human retinas. Invest Ophthalmol Vis Sci 41:2352-6
Sears, S; Erickson, A; Hendrickson, A (2000) The spatial and temporal expression of outer segment proteins during development of Macaca monkey cones. Invest Ophthalmol Vis Sci 41:971-9

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