Specificity of pseudorabies virus as a retrograde marker of sympathetic preganglionic neurons: implications for transneuronal labeling studies

A. S P Jansen, D Gregory Farwell, A. D. Loewy

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

105 Scopus citations


The purpose of the present study was to examine the specificity of the Bartha strain of pseudorabies virus (PRV) as a CNS retrograde marker. This information is critical in assessing whether this virus has potential value as a specific transneuronal marker. The model system chosen for analysis was the intermediolateral cell column (IML)-the principal site of origin of sympathetic preganglionic neurons (SPNs). Two experiments were performed. The first experiment established the usefulness of this model system and the second examined the properties of PRV as a retrograde cell body marker. In the first experiment, injections of two different conventional retrograde cell body markers (cholera toxin-β subunit (CTb) and Fluoro-Gold) were made in two ipsilateral sympathetic structures (viz., stellate ganglion and adrenal gland) in the same rat. This experiment established that (1) heterogenous SPNs originate in the same cell clusters that form the IML at the T4-T8 levels and 2) SPNs innervate specific sympathetic targets with almost none providing a dual innervation of the stellate ganglion and adrenal gland. This mosaic arrangement of target-specific SPNs makes the IML an excellent CNS site for this type of study. The second experiment followed the same paradigm: PRV was injected into the stellate ganglion and CTb into the adrenal gland (and vice versa). These experiments established that PRV infections of one functional class of SPNs did not produce infections in nearby, functionally unrelated SPNs and did not cause a reduction in the SPN cell population, except under conditions of severe gliosis. These two properties increase the probability that Bartha PRV may be used as a specific retrograde transneuronal marker of central autonomic pathways.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)103-112
Number of pages10
JournalBrain Research
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jul 16 1993
Externally publishedYes


  • Autonomic nervous system
  • Pseudorabies virus
  • Sympathetic nervous system
  • Sympathetic preganglionic neuron
  • Transneuronal cell body labeling

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Developmental Biology
  • Molecular Biology
  • Clinical Neurology
  • Neuroscience(all)


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