Direct retinal projections to the hypothalamus, piriform cortex, and accessory optic nuclei in the golden hamster as demonstrated by a sensitive anterograde horseradish peroxidase technique

Gary E. Pickard, Ann‐Judith ‐J Silverman

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The central projections of the retinal ganglion cells of the golden hamster were examined using horseradish peroxidase (HRP) as the anterograde tracer molecule. Following monocular injections of HRP into the vitreous, retinfugal fibers were histochemically demonstrated using the chromagen tetramethylbenzidine. This procedure, being more sensitive than the 3H‐amino acid radioautographic technique, provided a clear demonstration of previously controversial retinal projections, clearer definition of established projections, and the discovery of new retinal pathways. An inferior accessory optic system was shown to be unequivocally present in this species and to consist of both crossed and uncrossed components. A direct retinal projection to the suprachiasmatic nucleus (SCN) of the hypothalamus was confirmed in this study. But the distribution of terminals as seen by this procedure was substantially different than previously reported; both rostrocaudal and mediolateral asymmetries in the distribution of label between the ipsilateral and contralateral SCN were observed. Substantial differences in the retinal projection to the SCN in the hamster and the rat were also noted. It is suggested that these differences may reflect the different effects photic input has on the neuroendocrine‐gonadal axis in these two species. Finally, labeled retinal axons were followed leaving the optic tract and coursing anteriorly through the plexiform layer of the piriform cortex; other labeled fibers were seen to enter the septal region. The physiological significance of these previously undescribed retinal projections is not known.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)155-172
Number of pages18
JournalJournal of Comparative Neurology
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Feb 10 1981


ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience(all)

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