Vascular development in primate retina: Comparison of laminar plexus formation in monkey and human

R. F. Gariano*, M. L. Iruela-Arispe, A. E. Hendrickson

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

120 Scopus citations


Purpose. The temporal and spatial sequence of development of laminar vascular plexuses was determined qualitatively and quantitatively in monkey and human retina. Methods. Histologic and cytochemical methods were used to study Macaca monkey eyes from fetal day 55 (F55d; birth = F168d) to 17 years, and human retina from fetal 21 weeks to adult. Results. In monkey retina, spindle-shaped, presumed vascular precursor, cells appear at F55d in the nerve fiber layer (NFL) adjacent to the optic nerve. The vascular plexuses in the NFL-ganglion cell layer appear first and form in the presence of spindle cells. Nerve fiber layer vessels extended radially to reach the temporal ora at F95d and nasal ora at F110d. The capillary plexus at the inner border of the inner nuclear layer (INL) appears at F120d near the optic disc, whereas the plexus at the outer INL border appears at F130d. Both reach their final position before birth. The INL plexuses form by endothelial budding from more vitread vessels in the absence of spindle cells. In the NFL, vessel growth to match retinal growth at the ora also involves endothelial budding. The growth rate of all plexuses was approximately 225 μm/day. The central fovea and the most peripheral retina adjacent to the ora serrata remained avascular throughout development. Differences between humans and monkeys include: Human vessels complete maturation after birth; human vessels reach the nasal ora earlier than the temporal ora; and spindle cells are more abundant and dispersed over a greater area within human NFL. Growth rates of human plexuses were comparable to those in monkeys. Conclusion. In both primates, deeper capillary plexuses form only by extension from existing vessels (angiogenesis). In the NFL, early vessel formation involves spindle precursor cells (vasculogenesis). The main difference between monkey and human in these processes is that the mature monkey vascular pattern is established well before birth.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)3442-3455
Number of pages14
JournalInvestigative Ophthalmology and Visual Science
Issue number9
StatePublished - 1994


  • angiogenesis
  • blood vessel
  • capillaries
  • choroid
  • retinal wholemounts
  • spindle cells
  • vasculogenesis

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ophthalmology
  • Sensory Systems
  • Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience


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