Improved neuronal tract tracing with stable biocytin-derived neuroimaging agents

Nikos Logothetis, Anurag Mishra, Kirti Dhingra, Almut Schüz, Nikos K. Logothetis, Santiago Canals

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


    One of the main characteristics of brains is their profuse connectivity at different spatial scales. Understanding brain function evidently first requires a comprehensive description of neuronal anatomical connections. Not surprisingly a large number of histological markers were developed over the years that can be used for tracing mono- or polysynaptic connections. Biocytin is a classical neuroanatomical tracer commonly used to map brain connectivity. However, the endogenous degradation of the molecule by the action of biotinidase enzymes precludes its applicability in long-term experiments and limits the quality and completeness of the rendered connections. With the aim to improve the stability of this classical tracer, two novel biocytin-derived compounds were designed and synthesized. Here we present their greatly improved stability in biological tissue along with retained capacity to function as neuronal tracers. The experiments, 24 and 96 h postinjection, demonstrated that the newly synthesized molecules yielded more detailed and complete information about brain networks than that obtained with conventional biocytin. Preliminary results suggest that the reported molecular designs can be further diversified for use as multimodal tracers in combined MRI and optical or electron microscopy experiments. © 2009 American Chemical Society.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)129-138
    Number of pages9
    JournalACS Chemical Neuroscience
    Issue number2
    Publication statusPublished - 2010


    • Biocytin
    • Biotinidase
    • Brain mapping
    • Histology
    • Neuroanatomical tracers


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