Functional stability of retinal ganglion cells after degeneration-induced changes in synaptic input

David J. Margolis, Gregory Newkirk, Thomas Euler, Peter B. Detwiler

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

164 Scopus citations


Glutamate released from photoreceptors controls the activity and output of parallel pathways in the retina. When photoreceptors die because of degenerative diseases, surviving retinal networks are left without their major source of input, but little is known about how photoreceptor loss affects ongoing synaptic activity and retinal output. Here, we use patch-clamp recording and two-photon microscopy to investigate morphological and physiological properties of identified types of ON and OFF retinal ganglion cells (RGCs) in the adult (36-210 d old) retinal degeneration rd-1/rd-1 mouse. We find that strong rhythmic synaptic input drives ongoing oscillatory spike activity in both ON and OFF RGCs at a fundamental "beating" frequency of ∼10 Hz. Despite this aberrant activity, ON and OFF cells maintain their characteristic dendritic stratification, intrinsic firing properties, including rebound firing in OFF cells, balance of synaptic excitation and inhibition, and dendritic calcium signaling. Thus, RGCsare inherently stable during degeneration-induced retinal activity.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)6526-6536
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Neuroscience
Issue number25
StatePublished - Jun 18 2008
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Neuroscience(all)


  • Blindness
  • Calcium
  • Dendrites
  • Ganglion cells
  • Photoreceptor
  • Retinal degeneration


Dive into the research topics of 'Functional stability of retinal ganglion cells after degeneration-induced changes in synaptic input'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this