Research Confirms That Botox Can Penerate the Central Nervous System

By on
Recently unemployed Larisa Erwin gets free Botox injections from Dr. Shannan Ginnan at Reveal in Arlington
Recently unemployed Larisa Erwin gets free Botox injections from Dr. Shannan Ginnan at Reveal in Arlington, Virginia, June 5, 2009. The company offered free Botox to the first 50 recently unemployed, active job seekers and an opportunity to meet with recruiters and get some employment tips. Reuters/Jim Young

New study suggests that the toxic substances used in botox can seep through the central nervous system (CNS). The University of Queensland (UQ) research, which was published in the Journal of Neuroscience explains that the toxins used in botox can cause potential harm as it penetrates the neural system of the brain.

Botulinum neurotoxin serotype A, or more popularly known to the world as Botox, is the leading substance being used to stretch facial fine lines and treat muscular spasticity and hyperactivity. This substance performs the above-mentioned functions by inducing local paralysis that can last for extended periods of time. Botox is said to be a byproduct of naturally-made sources.

Professor Frederic Meunier, head of the UQ Queensland Brain Institute laboratory said people have been using the most fatal form of neurotoxin for years for aesthetic purposes and other medical conditions. He notes that the toxin is highly potent and thus the new discovery of botox nerve transmission has sent them a cause for alarm. However, he also said that there have been no reports of morbidity or mortality associated with botox hence it is assumed that botox is safe. "While no side-effects of using Botox medically have been found yet, finding out how this highly active toxin travels to the central nervous system is vital because this pathway is also hijacked by other pathogens such as West Nile or Rabies viruses,” Meunier said. "A detailed understanding of this pathway is likely to lead to new treatments for some of these diseases."

Postdoctoral Research Fellow at Meunier’s laboratory, Tong Wang found that most of the toxins are moved to a cellular compartment, which subsequently deteriorates the toxins upon entering the CNS. "For the first time, we've been able to visualize single molecules of Botulinum toxin traveling at high speed through our nerves," said Wang. "We found that some of the active toxins manage to escape this route and intoxicate neighboring cells, so we need to investigate this further and find out how."

The study is a collaboration of at the Queensland Brain Institute, UQ's Australian Institute for Bioengineering and Nanotechnology, the UQ School of Chemical Engineering, the CSIRO and teams of scientist from the U.S., France and the U.K.

To contact the writer, email