A dopamine- and protein kinase A-dependent mechanism for network adaptation in retinal ganglion cells

Cecilia F. Vaquero, Angela Pignatelli, Gloria J. Partida, Andrew Ishida

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

50 Scopus citations


Vertebrates can detect light intensity changes in vastly different photic environments, in part, because postreceptoral neurons undergo "network adaptation." Previous data implicated dopaminergic, cAMP-dependent inhibition of retinal ganglion cells in this process yet left unclear how this occurs and whether this occurs in darkness versus light. To test for light- and dopamine-dependent changes in ganglion cell cAMP levels in situ, we immunostained dark- and light-adapted retinas with anti-cAMP antisera in the presence and absence of various dopamine receptor ligands. To test for direct effects of dopamine receptor ligands and membrane-permeable protein kinase ligands on ganglion cell excitability, we recorded spikes from isolated ganglion cells in perforated-patch whole-cell mode before and during application of these agents by microperfusion. Our immunostainings show that light, endogenous dopamine, and exogenous dopamine elevate ganglion cell cAMP levels in situ by activating D1-type dopamine receptors. Our spike recordings show that D1-type agonists and 8-bromo cAMP reduce spike frequency and curtail sustained spike firing and that these effects entail protein kinase A activation. These effects resemble those of background light on ganglion cell responses to light flashes. Network adaptation could thus be produced, to some extent, by dopaminergic modulation of ganglion cell spike generation, a mechanism distinct from modulation of transmitter release onto ganglion cells or of transmitter-gated currents in ganglion cells. Combining these observations with results obtained in studies of photoreceptor, bipolar, and horizontal cells indicates that all three layers of neurons in the retina are equipped with mechanisms for adaptation to ambient light intensity.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)8624-8635
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Neuroscience
Issue number21
StatePublished - Nov 1 2001


  • Contrast sensitivity
  • Dopamine
  • Filtering
  • Light adaptation
  • Network adaptation
  • Protein kinase A
  • Retina

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience(all)


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