Optic nerve-dependent changes in adult frog tectal cell phenotypes

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6 Scopus citations


Optic nerve activity helps determine the placement of retinal ganglion cell terminals in the optic tectum of the frog. We investigated whether the presence of this nerve might also influence a characteristic of its target structure, neurotransmitter biosynthesis. We performed unilateral optic nerve transections on adult animals and assayed the percent and intensity of substance P- and serotoninlike immunoreactive (SP-ir and 5-HT-ir, respectively) cells in the deafferented and afferented tectal lobes. Regeneration of the optic nerve was prevented. The percent of SP-ir cells in the afferented tectal lobes was significantly less than that in the deafferented ones either 6 weeks or 5 months following optic nerve lesion. Comparison to normal animals indicated that the change in SP-ir expression was due to a decrease in the percent of immunoreactive cells in the afferented tecta ipsilateral to the optic nerve lesion. The serotoninlike immunoreactivity of tectal cells was also significantly different in the two lobes following optic nerve lesions. This difference resulted from an increase in the percent of 5-HT-ir cells in the deafferented tectum. In addition, the intensity of 5-HT-ir cells in the deafferented lobe was significantly greater than in the afferented one. The staining intensity of SP-ir cells underwent only a transient, relative decrease in the deafferented rectum. We conclude that the optic nerve does regulate substance P and serotonin expression in the tectum, but that this regulation likely occurs through different pathways.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)517-534
Number of pages18
JournalJournal of Neurobiology
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 1996


  • optic tectum
  • serotonin
  • substance P
  • visual development
  • visual plasticity

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Neuroscience
  • Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience


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