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- Materials and methods
Here we present a detailed study of the major events in the retinal histogenesis in a slow-developing elasmobranch species, the small-spotted catshark, during embryonic, postnatal and adult stages using classical histological and immunohistological methods, providing a complete neurochemical characterization of retinal cells. We found that the retina of the small-spotted catshark was fully differentiated prior to birth. The major developmental events in retinal cell differentiation occurred during the second third of the embryonic period. Maturational features described in the present study were first detected in the central retina and, as development progressed, they spread to the rest of the retina following a central-to-peripheral gradient. While the formation of both plexiform layers occurs simultaneously in the retina of the most common fish models, in the small-spotted catshark retina the emergence of the outer plexiform layer was delayed with respect to the inner plexiform layer. According to the expression of the markers used, retinal cell differentiation followed a vitreal-to-scleral gradient, with the exception of Müller cells that were the last cell type generated during retinogenesis. This vitreal-to-scleral progression of neural differentiation seems to be specific to slow-developing fish species.