Neurophotonics 2017 Jan 16;4(1):011005. Epub 2016 Aug 16.
Universidad Central del Caribe , School of Medicine, Department of Physiology, Bayamón 00960-6032, Puerto Rico.
Some very transparent cells in the optical tract of vertebrates, such as the lens fiber cells, possess certain types of specialized intermediate filaments (IFs) that have essential significance for their transparency. The exact mechanism describing why the IFs are so important for transparency is unknown. Recently, transparency was described also in the retinal Müller cells (MCs). We report that the main processes of the MCs contain bundles of long specialized IFs, each about 10 nm in diameter; most likely, these filaments are the channels providing light transmission to the photoreceptor cells in mammalian and avian retinas. We interpret the transmission of light in such channels using the notions of quantum confinement, describing energy transport in structures with electroconductive walls and diameter much smaller than the wavelength of the respective photons. Model calculations produce photon transmission efficiency in such channels exceeding 0.8, in optimized geometry. We infer that protein molecules make up the channels, proposing a qualitative mechanism of light transmission by such structures. The developed model may be used to describe light transmission by the IFs in any transparent cells.