Terminal nerve and vision



The vertebrate retina receives efferent input from different parts of the central nervous system. Efferent fibers are thought to influence retinal information processing but their functional role is not well understood. One of the best-described retinopetal fiber systems in teleost retinae belongs to the terminal nerve complex. Gonadotropin-releasing hormone (GnRH) and molluscan cardioexcitatory tetrapeptide (FMRFamide)-containing fibers from the ganglion of the terminal nerve form a dense fiber plexus in the retina at the border of the inner nuclear and inner plexiform layer. Peptide-containing fibers surround and contact perikarya of dopaminergic interplexiform cells in teleost retina. In vitro experiments demonstrated that exogenously supplied GnRH mediates dopaminergic effects on the membrane potential and on the morphology of dendritic tips (spinules) of cone horizontal cells. These effects can be specifically blocked by GnRH-antagonists, indicating that the release of dopamine and dopamine-dependent effects on light adaptation of retinal neurons are affected by the terminal nerve complex. Recent data have shown that olfactory information has an impact on retinal physiology, but its precise role is not clear. The efferent fiber of the terminal nerve complex is one of the first retinopetal fiber systems for which the sources of the fibers, their cellular targets, and several physiological, morphological, and behavioral effects are known. The terminal nerve complex is therefore a model system for the analysis of local information processing which is influenced by a distinct fiber projection. Microsc. Res. Tech. 65:25–32, 2004. © 2004 Wiley-Liss, Inc.