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Modulation of the components of the rat dark-adapted electroretinogram by the three subtypes of GABA receptors


The separate components of the dark-adapted electroretinogram (ERG) are believed to reflect the electric activity of neurones in both the inner and the outer layers of the retina, although their precise origin still remains unclear. The purpose of this study was to examine whether selective blockage or stimulation of the different subtypes of GABA receptors might help further elucidate the cellular origin of the components of the dark-adapted ERG. The rat retina is of interest since the localization and physiology of GABA receptors in that retina have been examined in great detail. GABA agonists and antagonists, known to affect the responses of neurons in the inner plexiform layer, were injected into the vitreous of one eye while ERG responses evoked by flashes of white light were recorded. GABA and the GABAa agonist isoguvacine completely removed the oscillatory potentials (OPs) and reduced the amplitude of the a- and b-waves. TPMPA, a GABAc antagonist, reduced the a- and b-waves but had no significant effect on the OPs. Baclofen, a GABAb agonist, reduced the amplitude of the a- and b-waves, without having any effects on the amplitude of the OPs. The GABAb antagonist CGP35348 increased the amplitudes of the a- and b-wave without having an effect on the amplitudes of the OPs. The GABAb receptor ligands had significant and opposite effect on the latency of the OPs. These results indicate that retinal neurons, presumably a subpopulation of amacrine cells, that have GABAb receptors are not the source of the OPs of the ERG, although they may modulate these wavelets in some manner, while contributing to the generation of the dark-adapted a- and b-waves. OPs are modified by stimulation of GABAa receptors, and the a- and b-waves by stimulation of all GABA receptor subtypes.

Corresponding author
Address correspondence and reprint requests to: Thor Eysteinsson, Department of Physiology, University of Iceland, Vatnsmyrarvegi 16, IS-101 Reykjavik, Iceland. E-mail:
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Visual Neuroscience
  • ISSN: 0952-5238
  • EISSN: 1469-8714
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