The Action of Botulinum Toxin at the Neuromuscular Junction
ARMY MEDICAL RESEARCH INST OF INFECTIOUS DISEASES FORT DETRICK MD
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Botulism results from the action is of a protein neurotoxin MW approx. 150,000 produced by the bacterium Clostridium botulinum, of which there are eight known strains. Botulinum neurotoxin is the most potent biological toxin known, having a median lethal dose of 5-50 ngkg body weight. The primary site of action of botulinum toxin is the cholinergic nerve terminal, where it blocks the release of the neurotransmitter acetylcholine. Death usually results from respiratory failure. Nonlethal doses of botulinum toxin can induce sprouting of the nerve terminal and have significant postsynaptic effects, including muscle atrophy and alterations in the membrane electrical properties of the muscle fiber. There is no universally available treatment for botulinum intoxication. However, immunotherapeutic and chemotherapeutic procedures are now being developed and will be discussed.
- Medicine and Medical Research