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Methods. 2003 May;30(1):79-85.

Rapid labeling of neuronal populations by ballistic delivery of fluorescent dyes.

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Department of Physiology and Neuroscience, New York University School of Medicine, 540 First Avenue, New York, NY 10016, USA.


Particle-mediated ballistic delivery of fluorescent dyes has been recently used to label neuronal populations in a rapid and efficient fashion. Here we describe detailed protocols for this technique as well as recent improvements in its implementation. This technique allows rapid labeling of entire neurons in a Golgi-like manner after membranes of individual neurons are contacted by particles coated with lipophilic dyes. Neurons can be labeled by dyes of different colors at controlled densities to facilitate the study of structural interactions between cells. Furthermore, in conjunction with other histochemical labeling methods, the technique can be used to study changes in neuronal structures associated with pathologic processes in animal models or postmortem human brain. In addition to lipophilic dyes, water-soluble molecules such as calcium indicators can also be delivered efficiently with this technique. The method of ballistic delivery of indicators thus provides new avenues to probe the structure and function of the nervous system.

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