Tracing neuronal connections in postmortem human hippocampal complex with the carbocyanine dye DiI

Elliott J. Mufson, Daniel R. Brady, Jeffrey H. Kordower

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

60 Scopus citations


This report describes the ability of the carbocyanine dye DiI to trace hippocampal complex connections in a paraformaldehyde immersion-fixed human postmortem brain. Six months after the placement of DiI crystals into the hilus of the dentate gyrus, the CA1 hippocampal subfield and the lateral entorhinal cortex, 50-μm thick, vibratome cut sections were examined using an epifluorescence microscope with a rhodamine filter. In association with DiI-labeled granule, pyramidal and multipolar type neurons, we observed dendrites containing dendritic spines and axons. DiI-labeled fibers were observed coursing within classically described hippocampal pathways for at least 8 mm distal to the injection site. Photoconversion of diaminobenzidine (DAB)-treated DiI sections produced a stable record of labeled profiles. These findings indicate that DiI is a useful method for investigating intrinsic local circuit connections in normal aldehyde-fixed postmortem human brain and suggests that DiI could be a powerful tool to examine altered neural connectivity in humans with neurological disease.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)649-653
Number of pages5
JournalNeurobiology of Aging
Issue number6
StatePublished - 1990
Externally publishedYes


  • Brain
  • Dye DiI
  • Fluorescence
  • Hippocampus
  • Human
  • Neuron
  • Postmortem
  • Retrograde

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience(all)
  • Aging
  • Clinical Neurology
  • Developmental Biology
  • Geriatrics and Gerontology


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