The acidic dipeptide N-acetylaspartylglutamate (NAAG), which satisfies many of the criteria for a neurotransmitter, was identified immunohistochemically within two human retinae. We observed NAAG immunoreactivity in retinal ganglion cells, their dendrites in the inner plexiform layer, and their axons in the optic nerve fiber layer. The vast majority of ganglion cells were stained, including displaced ganglion cells, ganglion cells of different sizes, and those whose dendrites arborized in the inner and outer sublaminae of the inner plexiform layer, that is, presumed On- and Off- cells. The sizes of labeled and unlabeled cells in the ganglion cell layer, as measured in counterstained material, suggest that the unlabeled cells consist primarily or only of displaced amacrine cells. We also saw immunoreactivity in small cells along the inner margin of the inner nuclear layer, presumably amacrine cells, and in small cells with little cytoplasm in the inner plexiform and ganglion cell layers, presumably displaced amacrine cells. These results are consistent with a role for NAAG in the transmission of visual information from the retina to the rest of the brain. Further, they are similar to those reported previously in rat, cat and monkey, thus demonstrating the relevance of previous studies to humans.
Tieman, S. B., & Tieman, D. G. (1996). N-acetylaspartylglutamate immunoreactivity in human retina. Vision Research, 36(7), 941–947. https://doi.org/10.1016/0042-6989(95)00185-9