Of Two Minds

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Something to think about next time those vanity pangs hit (Mac-users, I’m looking at you): new research published in the April 2nd Journal of Neuroscience reports that botulium (the toxin in the popular cosmetic Botox injections) can reach the nervous system when injected into the facial muscles of rats. Although the toxin would only reach the nerve in minute amounts, botulinum toxin is potent even in small amounts and may still disrupt nerve activity. Currently the FDA is reviewing the safety of Botox injections, which are used to paralyze the muscles of the face and thereby reduce the appearance of wrinkles, due to 16 deaths that have resulted from injections.

Botulinum toxin is produced by the bacterium Clostridium botulinum and, by and large, has been safely used by medical professionals to treat a variety of maladies from muscle spasms to migraines to wrinkles. This ‘safety’ has been attributed to the toxin’s localization–specifically, it doesn’t leave the injection site or spread to other systems and tissues, where it could be harmful or fatal. This study, conducted by Atonucci et al, suggests that botulinum toxin can be transported backwards along microtubles (the ‘skeleton’ of cells, which can also move molecules) and leave muscle cells. It can pass through the muscle cell’s membrane, and find itself in the afferent nerve terminal adjacent to the injection site. Whether it is enough to interfere with nerve functioning remains unclear, but perhaps will be further studied in the wake of the FDA review.

Comments

  1. #1 Sam Wise
    April 9, 2008

    Hmmm… Botulinum toxin from cosmetic injections making it to the recipient’s brain…

    Well, if nothing else, this helps explain all the repeat customers!

  2. #2 darkman
    April 9, 2008

    at what point did people stop thinking about the fact that injecting a potent neurotoxin into their face might have negative side effects? oh, right, this is cosmetic science.

    how many people would stop taking PE drugs if they were told there was increased risk of alzheimers or something similar?

  3. #3 AnnieH
    April 10, 2008

    Silly me…Here I was thinking that some of the altered speech of certain celebrities was due to drugs or alcohol or both. Now I can blame the dreaded botulism. Seems that Age is bound to have her way with us one way or another.

  4. #4 Earthceuticals
    April 11, 2008

    I know that with the exception of re-constructive surgery following disease or accident that the majority of cosmetic procedures are mostly elective procedures and mostly not medically necessary to begin with… But, thank you for the article, this one procedure has been a pet peeve of mine since I heard about it. So, injecting one of the most deadly toxins known into a patients face with the intended outcome of making their wrinkles appear lessened for a temporary amount of time is a bad idea? Wow, who knew? I really never got this one to begin with and never understood how the use of this drug for this purpose ever got approval.

  5. #5 Mark
    April 12, 2008

    Anyone stupid or vain enough to have a NEUROTOXIN injected into their faces deserve to have brain damage. I hope this study is true.

  6. #6 Luna_the_cat
    November 11, 2008

    Hang on. There are people in the world who get botox injections not for vanity, but to control the otherwise uncontrollable pain of severe migraines. These are people for whom no other drug works. Wishing ill on everyone who gets these injections is not only shallow and nasty, it is unfair.

  7. #7 Botox Injections
    March 5, 2010

    Your site very useful.
    I am age 30 .My face for more than sensitivity.
    and then I like to spray as well.Now is the decision.
    When I read the article and see a variety, it makes me happy.

    thank a lot your information
    and thank you very much for I had the opportunity to publish my work. :)

  8. #8 Botox injections
    May 3, 2010

    Just wait until they hit a nerve Choccie – the pain is incredibly horrific and it took me 11 years to go to the dentist again. Those needles are unpleasant and they hurt but ‘not nice’ beats the terrifying pain that leaves you with a permanent fear that has left the pre-anesthetic days of dentistry with a generation of people with rotting teeth.