Neuroscience Bulletin

, Volume 35, Issue 5, pp 909–920 | Cite as

Trans-synaptic Neural Circuit-Tracing with Neurotropic Viruses

  • Jiamin Li
  • Taian Liu
  • Yun Dong
  • Kunio KondohEmail author
  • Zhonghua LuEmail author


A central objective in deciphering the nervous system in health and disease is to define the connections of neurons. The propensity of neurotropic viruses to spread among synaptically-linked neurons makes them ideal for mapping neural circuits. So far, several classes of viral neuronal tracers have become available and provide a powerful toolbox for delineating neural networks. In this paper, we review the recent developments of neurotropic viral tracers and highlight their unique properties in revealing patterns of neuronal connections.


Neurotropic virus Central nervous system Neural circuit Trans-synaptic tracer Retrograde tracing Anterograde tracing 



This review was supported by the National Natural Science Foundation of China (31671119 and 31871090), the Shenzhen Science and Technology Innovation Commission (JCYJ20160428164440255, JCYJ20170413162938668, JCYJ20170818155056369, and JCYJ20170307170742519), the Shenzhen Discipline Construction Project for Neurobiology (DRCSM [2016]1379), the Japan Society for the Promotion of Science KAKENHI (JP18K08494), and the Japan Science and Technology Agency PRESTO (JPMJPR1784), the Ono Medical Research Foundation, and the Novartis Foundation (Japan) for the Promotion of Science.


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Copyright information

© Shanghai Institutes for Biological Sciences, CAS 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Guangdong Provincial Key Laboratory of Brain Connectome and Behavior, The Brain Cognition and Brain Disease Institute, Shenzhen Institutes of Advanced TechnologyChinese Academy of SciencesShenzhenChina
  2. 2.University of Chinese Academy of SciencesBeijingChina
  3. 3.Division of Endocrinology and Metabolism, Department of Homeostatic RegulationNational Institute for Physiological Sciences, National Institute of Natural SciencesOkazakiJapan
  4. 4.Japan Science and Technology AgencyPRESTOOkazakiJapan

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