Intramuscular Botulinum toxin A injections induce central changes to axon initial segments and cholinergic boutons on spinal motoneurones in rats

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review

Intramuscular injections of botulinum toxin block pre-synaptic cholinergic release at neuromuscular junctions producing a temporary paralysis of affected motor units. There is increasing evidence, however, that the effects are not restricted to the periphery and can alter the central excitability of the motoneurones at the spinal level. This includes increases in input resistance, decreases in rheobase currents for action potentials and prolongations of the post-spike after-hyperpolarization. The aim of our experiments was to investigate possible anatomical explanations for these changes. Unilateral injections of Botulinum toxin A mixed with a tracer were made into the gastrocnemius muscle of adult rats and contralateral tracer only injections provided controls. Immunohistochemistry for Ankyrin G and the vesicular acetylcholine transporter labelled axon initial segments and cholinergic C-boutons on traced motoneurones at 2 weeks post-injection. Soma size was not affected by the toxin; however, axon initial segments were 5.1% longer and 13.6% further from the soma which could explain reductions in rheobase. Finally, there was a reduction in surface area (18.6%) and volume (12.8%) but not frequency of C-boutons on treated motoneurones potentially explaining prolongations of the after-hyperpolarization. Botulinum Toxin A therefore affects central anatomical structures controlling or modulating motoneurone excitability explaining previously observed excitability changes.

Original languageEnglish
Article number893
JournalScientific Reports
Issue number1
Number of pages10
Publication statusPublished - 2020

Number of downloads are based on statistics from Google Scholar and

No data available

ID: 236919391