Bipolar cell gap junctions serve major signaling pathways in the human retina

Orsolya Kántor, Alexandra Varga, Roland Nitschke, Angela Naumann, Anna Énzsöly, Ákos Lukáts, Arnold Szabó, János Németh, Béla Völgyi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

10 Citations (Scopus)


Connexin36 (Cx36) constituent gap junctions (GJ) throughout the brain connect neurons into functional syncytia. In the retina they underlie the transmission, averaging and correlation of signals prior conveying visual information to the brain. This is the first study that describes retinal bipolar cell (BC) GJs in the human inner retina, whose function is enigmatic even in the examined animal models. Furthermore, a number of unique features (e.g. fovea, trichromacy, midget system) necessitate a reexamination of the animal model results in the human retina. Well-preserved postmortem human samples of this study are allowed to identify Cx36 expressing BCs neurochemically. Results reveal that both rod and cone pathway interneurons display strong Cx36 expression. Rod BC inputs to AII amacrine cells (AC) appear in juxtaposition to AII GJs, thus suggesting a strategic AII cell targeting by rod BCs. Cone BCs serving midget, parasol or koniocellular signaling pathways display a wealth of Cx36 expression to form homologously coupled arrays. In addition, they also establish heterologous GJ contacts to serve an exchange of information between parallel signaling streams. Interestingly, a prominent Cx36 expression was exhibited by midget system BCs that appear to maintain intimate contacts with bistratified BCs serving other pathways. These findings suggest that BC GJs in parallel signaling streams serve both an intra- and inter-pathway exchange of signals in the human retina.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2603-2624
Number of pages22
JournalBrain Structure and Function
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - Aug 1 2017


  • Bipolar cell
  • Electrical synapse
  • Gap junction
  • Koniocellular pathway
  • Magnocellular pathway
  • Parvocellular pathway

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Anatomy
  • Neuroscience(all)
  • Histology

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  • Cite this

    Kántor, O., Varga, A., Nitschke, R., Naumann, A., Énzsöly, A., Lukáts, Á., Szabó, A., Németh, J., & Völgyi, B. (2017). Bipolar cell gap junctions serve major signaling pathways in the human retina. Brain Structure and Function, 222(6), 2603-2624.