Author(s): Schlamp CL, Montgomery AD, Mac Nair CE, Schuart C, Willmer DJ, Nickells RW. Evaluation of the percentage of ganglion cells in the ganglion cell layer of the rodent retina. Mol Vis. 2013 Jun 27;19:1387-96. Print 2013. PMID 23825918
Journal: Molecular Vision, Volume 19, 2013
PURPOSE Retinal ganglion cells comprise a percentage of the neurons actually residing in the ganglion cell layer (GCL) of the rodent retina. This estimate is useful to extrapolate ganglion cell loss in models of optic nerve disease, but the values reported in the literature are highly variable depending on the methods used to obtain them.
METHODS We tested three retrograde labeling methods and two immunostaining methods to calculate ganglion cell number in the mouse retina (C57BL/6). Additionally, a double-stain retrograde staining method was used to label rats (Long-Evans). The number of total neurons was estimated using a nuclear stain and selecting for nuclei that met specific criteria. Cholinergic amacrine cells were identified using transgenic mice expressing Tomato fluorescent protein. Total neurons and total ganglion cell numbers were measured in microscopic fields of 10(4) µm(2) to determine the percentage of neurons comprising ganglion cells in each field.
RESULTS Historical estimates of the percentage of ganglion cells in the mouse GCL range from 36.1% to 67.5% depending on the method used. Experimentally, retrograde labeling methods yielded a combined estimate of 50.3% in mice. A retrograde method also yielded a value of 50.21% for rat retinas. Immunolabeling estimates were higher at 64.8%. Immunolabeling may introduce overestimates, however, with non-specific labeling effects, or ectopic expression of antigens in neurons other than ganglion cells.
CONCLUSIONS Since immunolabeling methods may overestimate ganglion cell numbers, we conclude that 50%, which is consistently derived from retrograde labeling methods, is a reliable estimate of the ganglion cells in the neuronal population of the GCL.