One of the main reasons Botox has been a successful cosmetic agent is because scientists felt the botulinum toxin is localized and cannot travel to the nerves of the brain and spinal cord. However a new Italian study has sparked concern after it was found that the toxin can indeed travel against nerve signals and can penetrate the brain and spinal cord.
Researchers at Italy's Institute of Neuroscience led by Matteo Caleo, performed an experiment on lab mice to analyze the location of botox after it was injected in doses comparable to human doses. Botulinum neurotoxin type A was used in the experiment.
AdvertisementThe researchers injected the toxin into whickers and also into one side of the hippocampus. They found that after three days, botox had traveled against the direction of the nerves and from one side of the hippocampus to the other.
The toxin also disrupted the neurons located in the brainstem and made them sluggish.
"The discovery was quite serendipitous ... and surprising," Matteo Caleo told the journal Science. "A significant portion of the toxin is active where it's not intended to be."
The study gives cause for concern, because there have been 1,437 adverse events associated with Botox use in people from 1989 to 2003. Advocacy group Public Citizen raised the alert after it found 16 deaths associated with Botox use in FDA's database. The FDA is conducting a safety review of the same.
The Italian study showing the ability of botox to travel to the brainstem appears in The Journal of Neuroscience.