Veterinary and Biomedical Sciences, Department of


Date of this Version



Scientific Reports 6:26060

DOI: 10.1038/srep26060


This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License. The images or other third party material in this article are included in the article’s Creative Commons license


The dorsal raphe nucleus (DRN), the major source of serotonergic input to the forebrain, receives excitatory input from the retina that can modulate serotonin levels and depressive-like behavior. In the Mongolian gerbil, retinal ganglion cells (RGCs) with alpha-like morphological and Y-like physiological properties innervate the DRN with ON DRN-projecting RGCs out numbering OFF DRN-projecting RGCs. The DRN neurons targeted by ON and OFF RGCs are unknown. To explore retino-raphe anatomical organization, retinal afferents labeled with Cholera toxin B were examined for association with the postsynaptic protein PSD-95. Synaptic associations between retinal afferents and DRN serotonergic and GABAergic neurons were observed. To explore retino-raphe functional organization, light-evoked c-fos expression was examined. Light significantly increased the number of DRN serotonergic and GABAergic cells expressing c-Fos. When ON RGCs were rendered silent while enhancing the firing rate of OFF RGCs, c-Fos expression was greatly increased in DRN serotonergic neurons suggesting that OFF DRN-projecting RGCs predominately activate serotonergic neurons whereas ON DRN-projecting RGCs mainly target GABAergic neurons. Direct glutamatergic retinal input to DRN 5-HT neurons contributes to the complex excitatory drive regulating these cells. Light, via the retinoraphe pathway can modify DRN 5-HT neuron activity which may play a role in modulating affective behavior.