Distribution of GABA immunoreactivity in kainic acid-treated rabbit retina

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Ischaemic retinal cell degeneration seems to involve both NMDA and non-NMDA receptor over-stimulation. However, different retinal cell types differ largely in their susceptibility to excitatory amino acid-induced neurotoxicity. We have investigated the vulnerability of GABAergic cells in the rabbit retina to the non-NMDA receptor agonist kainic acid (KA). The distribution of GABA immunoreactivity (GABA-IR) was examined in the central inferior retina at different survival times (5 h-6 days) following an intra-ocular injection of 140 nmol KA and compared to that of control and untreated retinas. In the normal retina, the majority of GABA-positive cells (79%) were located in the inner nuclear layer (INL), in one to four cell rows next to the inner plexiform layer (IPL), and in one cell row next to the outer plexiform layer (OPL). The remainder (21%) were found in the ganglion cell layer (GCL). Dense immunoreactivity was seen throughout the IPL. In the OPL, stained dots and occasional immunoreactive large processes could be seen. KA-exposed retinas processed for GABA immunocytochemistry 5 and 24 h after the injection showed an 85% reduction in the number of GABA immunoreactive cells. About the same degree of depletion was seen among GABA-IR cells located at different retinal levels. However, at these survival times, immunostaining was observed in three distinct bands in the IPL, indicating that the vulnerability to KA is not uniformly distributed among all GABAergic cells. At 48 h, an additional decrease in the number of labelled cells was noted, but immunoreactive cells were still found both in the INL and GCL. Even 6 days after KA treatment, a few stained cell bodies were seen in the INL next to the IPL, as well as a few processes in the IPL. The study shows that KA receptor overstimulation induces a marked depletion of the endogenous cellular GABA pools of the central rabbit retina, most likely as a result of GABAergic cell loss. However, a small population of GABAergic cells located in the INL appears to be less vulnerable to the toxic effects of 140 nmol KA.


External organisations
  • University of Oslo
Research areas and keywords

Subject classification (UKÄ) – MANDATORY

  • Ophthalmology


  • Animals, Immunohistochemistry, Kainic Acid, Neurons, Rabbits, Retina, Retinal Ganglion Cells, gamma-Aminobutyric Acid, Journal Article, Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)227-38
JournalExperimental Brain Research
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 1994
Publication categoryResearch