Glutamate stimulation of retinal ganglion cells in normal and S334ter-4 rat retinas: A candidate for a neurotransmitter-based retinal prosthesis

Paul G. Finlayson, Raymond Iezzi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

30 Scopus citations


Purpose. To investigate the suitability of glutamate as a potential agent for a neurotransmitter-based retinal prosthesis. Methods. Retinal ganglion cells (RGCs) from P35-70 albino Sprague-Dawley (normal) and P60-254 S334ter-4 (photoreceptor degeneration) rats were recorded extracellularly in flattened eye cup preparations, to assess their responses to glutamate, applied locally via micropipettes. Results. Brief local application of glutamate effectively excited RGCs in both normal and degenerated retinas. Epiretinal surface application of glutamate was less likely to excite RGCs than was subsurface application (20;μm below the epiretinal surface). Glutamate evoked RGC firing rates, and the response patterns were similar for epiretinal surface and subsurface applications. Subsurface application of 2 mM glutamate effectively excited cells within 130 μm of the ejection sites. Response latencies averaged 281 ms and were significantly longer for OFF RGCs than for ON RGCs in normal retinas (P = 0.025). Suppression of activity was observed at shorter latencies (~100 ms) after glutamate application in most of the spontaneously active RGCs. Responses to each glutamate application were similar, and the duration of activity was directly dependent on the duration of application. RGC responses varied from recurrent high-frequency bursts to sustained firing at rates above 40 spikes/s, in normal and degenerated retinas. Paired, sequential applications of glutamate evoked two distinguishable responses, with interstimulus intervals as low as 200 ms. Overall, RGC response sensitivity to glutamate was similar in normal and degenerated retinas. Conclusions. Glutamate is an excellent candidate for a neurotransmitter-based retinal prosthesis, as its local application effectively stimulates RGCs with high spatial and temporal resolution.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)3619-3628
Number of pages10
JournalInvestigative Ophthalmology and Visual Science
Issue number7
StatePublished - Jul 2010

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ophthalmology
  • Sensory Systems
  • Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience


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