Feedback from horizontal cells to rod photoreceptors in vertebrate retina

Wallace B. Thoreson, Norbert Babai, Theodore M. Bartoletti

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

62 Scopus citations


Retinal horizontal cells (HCs) provide negative feedback to cones, but, largely because annular illumination fails to evoke a depolarizing response in rods, it is widely believed that there is no feedback from HCs to rods. However, feedback from HCs to cones involves small changes in the calcium current (ICa) that do not always generate detectable depolarizing responses. We therefore recorded ICa directly from rods to test whether they were modulated by feedback from HCs. To circumvent problems presented by overlapping receptive fields of HCs and rods, we manipulated the membrane potential of voltage-clamped HCs while simultaneously recording from rods in a salamander retinal slice preparation. Like HC feedback in cones, hyperpolarizing HCs from -14 to -54, -84, and -104 mV increased the amplitude of ICa recorded from synaptically connected rods and caused hyperpolarizing shifts in ICa voltage dependence. These effects were blocked by supplementing the bicarbonate-buffered saline solution with HEPES. In rods lacking light-responsive outer segments, hyperpolarizing neighboring HCs with light caused a negative activation shift and increased the amplitude of I Ca. These changes in ICa were blocked by HEPES and by inhibiting HC light responses with a glutamate antagonist, indicating that they were caused by HC feedback. These results show that rods, like cones, receive negative feedback from HCs that regulates the amplitude and voltage dependence of ICa. HC-to-rod feedback counters light-evoked decreases in synaptic output and thus shapes the transmission of rod responses to downstream visual neurons.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)5691-5695
Number of pages5
JournalJournal of Neuroscience
Issue number22
StatePublished - May 28 2008


  • Calcium current
  • Feedback
  • Horizontal cell
  • Scotopic vision
  • Synaptic transmission
  • pH

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Neuroscience


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