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The botulinum toxin as a therapeutic agent: molecular and pharmacological insights

Authors Kukreja R, Singh BR

Received 8 April 2015

Accepted for publication 1 May 2015

Published 8 December 2015 Volume 2015:5 Pages 173—183

DOI https://doi.org/10.2147/RRBC.S60432

Checked for plagiarism Yes

Review by Single-blind

Peer reviewer comments 4

Editor who approved publication: Professor Nikolay Dokholyan

Roshan Kukreja,1 Bal Ram Singh2

1Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry, University of Massachusetts, 2Botulinum Research Center, Institute of Advanced Sciences, Dartmouth, MA, USA


Abstract: Botulinum neurotoxins (BoNTs), the most potent toxins known to mankind, are metalloproteases that act on nerve–muscle junctions to block exocytosis through a very specific and exclusive endopeptidase activity against soluble N-ethylmaleimide-sensitive factor attachment protein receptor (SNARE) proteins of presynaptic vesicle fusion machinery. This very ability of the toxins to produce flaccid muscle paralysis through chemical denervation has been put to good use, and these potentially lethal toxins have been licensed to treat an ever expanding list of medical disorders and more popularly in the field of esthetic medicine. In most cases, therapeutic BoNT preparations are high-molecular-weight protein complexes consisting of BoNT, complexing proteins, and excipients. There is at least one isolated BoNT, which is free of complexing proteins in the market (Xeomin®). Each commercially available BoNT formulation is unique, differing mainly in molecular size and composition of complexing proteins, biological activity, and antigenicity. BoNT serotype A is marketed as Botox®, Dysport®, and Xeomin®, while BoNT type B is commercially available as Myobloc®. Nerve terminal intoxication by BoNTs is completely reversible, and the duration of therapeutic effects of BoNTs varies for different serotypes. Depending on the target tissue, BoNTs can block the cholinergic neuromuscular or cholinergic autonomic innervation of exocrine glands and smooth muscles. Therapeutic BoNTs exhibit a high safety and very limited adverse effects profile. Despite their established efficacy, the greatest concern with the use of therapeutic BoNTs is their propensity to elicit immunogenic reactions that might render the patient unresponsive to subsequent treatments, particularly in chronic conditions that might lead to long-term treatment and frequent injections.

Keywords: botulinum neurotoxins, therapeutics, esthetics, botox, dysport, xeomin

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