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Adv Drug Deliv Rev. 2005 Jan 2;57(1):79-93.

Imaging living central neurones using viral gene transfer.

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Department of Pharmacology, School of Medical Sciences, University of Bristol, Bristol BS8 1TD, England.


Studies of central neurones and other cellular components of the brain, such as glial and vascular cells, can be greatly advanced by the use of the modern optical techniques such as confocal live cell imaging. Fluorescent proteins have allowed imaging of particular cell types or intracellular elements to be visualised and distinguished from irrelevant background structures. To introduce the genetic information encoding for fluorescent proteins into relevant cellular targets, molecular tools are required. Viral vectors are one of the best ways of gene delivery into differentiated postnatal brain neurones and glia. Current progress in this field allows targeting of various cell types and therefore makes it possible to express a variety of fluorescent constructs in selected subpopulations of neurones, for example. In this review, we will discuss and compare the properties of the most popular viral gene delivery systems and the advantages of different brain cell preparations to illustrate how they can be used for high-resolution live cell confocal imaging in order to study new aspects of central nervous system (CNS) structure and function.

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