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.
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BASINGER, S., GORDON, W. & LAM, D. Differential labelling of retinal neurones by 3H-2-deoxyglucose. Nature 280, 682–684 (1979). https://doi.org/10.1038/280682a0
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