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Trends Neurosci. 1990 Feb;13(2):71-5.

Viruses as transneuronal tracers.

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Department of Anatomy, Cambridge, UK.


Tracing chains of neurones requires the use of transneuronal tracers, which are transferred between connected neurones. The conventional transneuronal tracers used so far produce weak labelling of recipient neurones, probably because only a small amount of tracer is transferred. Live neurotropic viruses are beginning to be used as transneuronal tracers. The viruses are replicated in recipient neurones after transneuronal transfer. This replication, which is a unique characteristic of viruses, produces strong transneuronal labelling. The findings indicate that herpes-viruses in particular represent powerful tools for demonstrating neuronal connections across synapses, for example between peripheral nerves and neurones in the brain.

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