Rabies: interactions between neurons and viruses. A review of the history of Negri inclusion bodies

Neuropathol Appl Neurobiol. 1996 Jun;22(3):179-87.


The first clear-cut description of a virus-nerve cell interaction was made by Adelchi Negri in 1903 with the detection of cytoplasmic bodies (Negri bodies) in subsets of neurons in the brain from rabies-infected animals. A biographical sketch of Negri is given here; he was born in Perugia, Italy, in 1875 and died in Pavia in 1912. In 1900 Negri became assistant to Camillo Golgi, who encouraged him to study rabies-infected brains with histological techniques. The report of intraneuronal bodies described by Negri as specific for rabies stimulated an intense debate both concerning their diagnostic value and their nature. The diagnostic value was finally determined in a study by Negri's wife, Lina Negri-Luzzani, in 1913, while the viral nature of the bodies had to await the introduction of electron microscopy and immunohistochemistry. However, the true significance of the Negri bodies is still mysterious, since they only develop in subsets of infected neurons and occur mainly after infection with wild, so-called 'street', virus strains and not after infection with strains passaged in the laboratory, so-called 'fixed' strains.

Publication types

  • Biography
  • Historical Article
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • History, 20th Century
  • Humans
  • Inclusion Bodies / ultrastructure*
  • Neurons / ultrastructure*
  • Neurons / virology
  • Rabies / history*
  • Rabies / pathology*
  • Rabies / virology
  • Rabies virus*

Personal name as subject

  • A Negri