Dopaminergic neurons in the human retina



The utilization of dopamine in the adult human retina was examined by using high-affinity uptake, localization, synthesis, and release as neurotransmitter-specific physiological probes. Autoradiographic and histochemical studies have shown that dopamine-accumulating and dopamine-containing cells of the human retina belong to a population of neurons whose somata are located in the proximal regions of the inner nuclear layer. Some of these are amacrine cells which are pre-and postsynaptic to other amacrine cells exclusively in the inner plexiform layer. However, evidence is presented which indicates the existence of interplexiform dopaminergic neurons which send processes to both plexiform layers of the retina. These neurons contain a high concentration of dopamine, take up 3H-dopamine by a high-affinity mechanism, and release endogenous or accumulated dopamine by a Ca2+-dependent mechanism upon depolarization with high extracellular K+. An endogenous level of about 20 pmoles dopamine per mg protein was measured in freshly isolated retina using high-pressure liquid chromatography with electrochemical detection. These results demonstrate that mechanisms for dopaminergic neurotransmission are present in the human retina.