Nitric oxide (NO) activates soluble guanylyl cyclase (sGC) and the resulting increase in cyclic guanosine monophosphate (cGMP) is an important intracellular signalling pathway in the vertebrate retina. Immunocytochemical detection of cGMP following exposure to NO donors has proven an effective method of identifying cells that express sGC. While such an approach has proven useful for the study of several vertebrate retinas, it has not been applied to the well-characterized teleost retina. Therefore, in the present study, we have applied this approach to the retina of the goldfish (Carassius auratus). In the presence of the phosphodiesterase (PDE) inhibitor 3-isobutyl-1-methylxanthine (IBMX), incubation of goldfish eyecups in Ringer's solution containing (±)-S-nitroso-N-acetylpenicillamine (SNAP) increased cGMP-like immunoreactivity (cG-ir) in bipolar, horizontal, amacrine, and ganglion cells and in ganglion cell axons and optic nerve. Weak labeling was observed in horizontal cells but no change in cG-ir was noted within photoreceptors. The NO donor-stimulated increases of cG-ir in horizontal, bipolar, amacrine, and ganglion cells are consistent with known physiological effects of NO on these neurons. The physiological significance of NO action at the level of optic nerve is not known. The lack of an effect of SNAP on cG-ir in photoreceptors was unexpected, as there are known physiological actions of NO, mediated by cGMP, on these neurons. Although this may be due to insufficient sensitivity of immunolabeling, this result may indicate a difference between isoforms of sGC or cGMP PDE in these neurons, compared to neurons where exogenous NO increased cG-ir.
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