Immunocytochemical evidence that rod-connected horizontal cell axon terminals remodel in response to experimental retinal detachment in the cat
Cats have two types of horizontal cell (HC); one is axon-bearing (B-type), the other is axonless (A-type). We have previously described neurite sprouting from HCs in response to experimental retinal detachment. Here we sought to determine whether one or both types elaborate these outgrowths. Sections as well as wholemounts of retinas detached for 3, 7 and 28 days together with control retinas were double or triple labeled with antibodies to the calcium binding proteins calretinin and calbindin,
... inin and calbindin, to the synaptic vesicle-associated membrane protein 2 (VAMP2), and to the 70 and 200 kDa subunits of the neurofilament protein. Digital immunofluorescence images were collected by both confocal and two-photon microscopy. In control retina, both HC types label with antibodies to calretinin and calbindin D, but only the A-type also intensely labels with the neurofilament protein antibody. After 3, 7 and 28 days of detachment, these staining patterns persist, but there is a moderate upregulation of neurofilament protein in the B-type cell. In the detached retina, HC processes sprout neurites that appear most commonly as a loose array of fine beaded processes rising from the outer plexiform layer (OPL) into the outer nuclear layer (ONL), or, especially at 28 days, as stout unbranching processes that often cross the ONL en route to the subretinal space where some expand and arborize. Both types are strongly calretinin-positive while being somewhat less positive for antibodies to calbindin D and neurofilament protein. Moreover, they all arise from similarly labeled processes in the distal-most domain of the OPL where the narrowly stratified field of axon terminal boutons of the B-type HC normally innervates rod spherules, two to three thousand per cell. Our data indicate that the HC sprouts apparently arise specifically from the axon terminal of the B-type cell since outgrowths were never seen arising from either type of HC perikaryon or from processes identifiable as A-type dendrites. The data described here point to the specific remodeling of the rod-connected axon terminals of the B-type cell through neurite outgrowth. Rods respond to detachment by withdrawing synaptic terminals from the OPL while cones do not. Those HC outgrowths that terminate within the ONL appear to retain their connection with the retracted terminals. Others apparently have lost their presynaptic targets and cross the ONL in association with hypertrophied Müller cell processes.