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The Therapeutic Potential of Botulinum Toxin

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Botulinum toxin type A (BTX-A; commercial preparation BOTOX) is most well known for its effect on muscle contraction because of the BTX binding to the presynaptic nerve terminal, inhibiting the release of acetylcholine (ACH). The therapeutic benefit of BTX-A, however, can also be isolated to pain relief alone, suggesting that BTX-A also works through additional modes of action. Objective.

This article provides insight by an experienced physician into four different case reports. Each case demonstrates the therapeutic potential of BTX-A and the possibility of a different mechanism of action for BTX other than the inhibition of ACH release. Results.

Four patients, each with different symptoms such as relapsing–remitting multiple sclerosis, postherpetic neuralgia, peripheral neuropathy, and severe tingling caused by herniation of cervical vertebrae at the level of C8, were treated with BOTOX, and their symptoms were alleviated. Conclusions.

The BTX-A mechanism providing pain relief is hypothesized to be something other than muscle relaxation by inhibiting the release of ACH at the neuromuscular juncture, such as inhibition of the release of substance P or the blocking of autonomic pathways, etc. This article is intended to continue to keep physicians using this substance for dermatologic indications aware of the potential unsuspected effects.

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Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Department of Dermatology/Medicine at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA and the American Foundation for Aids Research, Beverly Hills, California

Publication date: 2004-03-01

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