Skip to main content

Thank you for visiting You are using a browser version with limited support for CSS. To obtain the best experience, we recommend you use a more up to date browser (or turn off compatibility mode in Internet Explorer). In the meantime, to ensure continued support, we are displaying the site without styles and JavaScript.

Differential labelling of retinal neurones by 3H-2-deoxyglucose


THE delineation of structural and functional interconnections in the vertebrate retina has long been a central problem in vision research. The Golgi technique1,2, combined with ultrastructural studies3,4 and post-recording injection of intracellular stains5,6, has revealed the morphological and physiological properties of many of the individual cell types of the retina. Recently, light and electron microscope autoradiography with putative neurotransmitters has tentatively identified certain retinal neurones with specific transmitters7,8. However, very few techniques exist which can reveal the interconnections of a ‘pathway’ of retinal neurones in a functionally dependent manner. Radioactive 2-deoxyglucose (2-DG) is commonly used as a tracer in the central nervous system, where biochemical and autoradiographic studies have shown it to be a good indicator of local functional activity9–11. Transport and phosphorylation of 2-DG are identical to those of glucose, but no further metabolism beyond 2-DG-6-PO4 occurs12. Most published studies using 2-DG as a tracer have used the 14C-labelled form and frozen thick-sectioned tissue, a combination in which the resolution of morphological structure is unacceptable for studying neuronal connections in the retina. In the studies reported here, we have used tritium-labelled 2-DG in combination with plastic embedding to produce stimulus-dependent labelling at the cellular level in the isolated goldfish retina; our results suggest that these modifications of the ‘2-deoxyglucose technique’ are useful for studying the physiology and functional connections of retinal neurones.

This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution

Access options

Rent or buy this article

Prices vary by article type



Prices may be subject to local taxes which are calculated during checkout


  1. Cajal, S. R. The Structure of the Retina (Thomas, Springfield, 1972).

    Google Scholar 

  2. Boycott, B. B. & Dowling, J. E. Phil. Trans. R. Soc. B255, 109–184 (1969).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  3. Stell, W. K. & Lightfoot, D. O. J. comp. Neurol. 159, 473–501 (1975).

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  4. Stell, W. K., Ishida, A. T. & Lightfoot, D. O. Science 198, 1269–1271 (1977).

    Article  ADS  CAS  Google Scholar 

  5. Kaneko, A. J. Physiol. Lond. 207, 623–633 (1970).

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  6. Famiglietti, E. V., Kaneko, A. & Tachibana, M. Science 198, 1267–1269 (1977).

    Article  ADS  Google Scholar 

  7. Bonting, S. L. Transmitters in the Visual Process (Pergamon, New York, 1976).

    Google Scholar 

  8. Marc, R., Stell, W. K., Bok, D. & Lam, D. M. K. J. comp. Neurol. 182, 221–245 (1978).

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  9. Reivich, M., Sano, N. & Sokoloff, L. in Brain and Blood Flow (ed. R. W. Ross-Russell) (Pittman, London, 1971).

    Google Scholar 

  10. Hubel, D. H., Wiesel, T. N. & Stryker, M. P. Nature 269, 328–330 (1977).

    Article  ADS  CAS  Google Scholar 

  11. Des Rosiers, M. H. et al. Science 200, 447–449 (1978).

    Article  ADS  CAS  Google Scholar 

  12. Kennedy, C. et al. Science 187, 850–853 (1975).

    Article  ADS  CAS  Google Scholar 

  13. Schwartz, R. T. & Schmidt, F. G. Eur. J. Biochem. 62, 181–187 (1976).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  14. Des Rosiers, M. H. & Descarries, L. C. r. hebd. Séanc. Acad. Sci., Paris D287, 153–156 (1978).

    CAS  Google Scholar 

  15. Lam, D. M. K. Cold Spring Harb. Symp. quant. Biol. 40, 571–579 (1975).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  16. Sokoloff, L. et al. J. Neurochem. 28, 897–916 (1977).

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

Download references

Author information

Authors and Affiliations


Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Cite this article

BASINGER, S., GORDON, W. & LAM, D. Differential labelling of retinal neurones by 3H-2-deoxyglucose. Nature 280, 682–684 (1979).

Download citation

  • Received:

  • Accepted:

  • Issue Date:

  • DOI:

This article is cited by


By submitting a comment you agree to abide by our Terms and Community Guidelines. If you find something abusive or that does not comply with our terms or guidelines please flag it as inappropriate.


Quick links

Nature Briefing

Sign up for the Nature Briefing newsletter — what matters in science, free to your inbox daily.

Get the most important science stories of the day, free in your inbox. Sign up for Nature Briefing