Evidence for three morphological classes of astrocyte in the adult rabbit retina: functional and developmental implications.
Immunohistochemical location of Glial Fibrillary Acidic Protein (GFAP) was used to compare the morphology of astrocytes in vascularized and partially vascularized retinae (human and rabbit, respectively). Astrocytes in human and rabbit retinae were found in the same regions as the blood vessels. These cells in partially vascularized retinae differed from those in vascularized retina in several respects. Firstly, there were six morphological types in rabbit retina and only two in human retina. Secondly, in rabbit retinae there were astrocytes only related to blood vessels called "perivascular astrocytes" which were absent in human retinae. Thirdly, the astrocytes were located in the nerve fiber layer and ganglion cell layer in both types of retinae, but in human retinae these cells could also be seen in the internal nuclear layer. These observations demonstrate that there are many differences between astrocytes in human and rabbit retina, suggesting that rabbit retina could be used with caution as an experimental model in comparative studies with human retina.