BOTOX: Production of Botulinum Toxin A

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Neurotoxins are one of the most overlooked causes of disease in society today.
These multifaceted compounds generally swarm toward neurons in the body, preventing
normal function by blocking various ion channels within the nervous system. While the
human body naturally produces some neurotoxins that aid in vital processes, most harmful
neurotoxins originate from other organisms. Reptiles, insects, amphibians, fungi and
bacteria are some species that gain recognition for emission of neurotoxic substances.
These creatures secrete toxins as a form of protection, making them poisonous when
encountered by other organisms. Alternatively, neurotoxins occur naturally in the form of
heavy metals. Both types of these toxins cause illnesses of various severities (Neurotoxin
Basic Science).
The severity of the case depends on the type of toxin, the amount of the toxin, and
the toxin’s path of entry. The most commonly associated symptoms with neurotoxin
contact are nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, fatigue, muscle cramps, and dizziness. These
symptoms typically arise after ingestion of a neurotoxin and are the least severe side
effects. More severe cases involve the inhalation of the toxin, which often leads to a quick
limb paralysis and induction of a coma. In extreme cases, permanent nerve damage results.
This nerve impairment leads to paralysis of both the peripheral and central nervous
systems. Once the central nervous system becomes affected, respiratory paralysis ensues,
eventually leading to death. Only a few toxins produced by organisms are potent enough to
cause this rapid death in humans. Of these deadly poisons, the most common is the toxin
belonging to the bacteria species Clostridium botulinum (Mergel).

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Botulinum Toxin

Botulinum Toxin is a neurotoxin that is produced by the Clostridium botulinum
bacterium (“Botulinum Toxin”). This common bacterium is infamous for causing Botulism,
a serious, but rare food-borne illness that has paralytic effects as mentioned in detail above
(“Botulism”). Clostridium botulinum spores are classified according to genotypic and
phenotypic similarities into one of four groups, known as groups I-IV; however, these four
groups can differentiate into seven different types of neurotoxins (A-G) based on their
differing serological properties. Toxins A, B, or F can be produced from group I of
Clostridium botulinum, and toxins B, E, or F can be produced from group II. Cases of
Botulism in humans result from exposure to groups I or II, while group III causes Botulism
only within plants. No onset of illness has been observed after exposure to group IV C.
botulinum (Lindstrom). The Botulinum Toxins that create illness in humans block the
release of the neurotransmitter, acetylcholine, which is described in detail below as the
necessary component in muscle contraction (Nigam).





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