UBC Faculty Research and Publications

From Toxin to Treatment: A Narrative Review on the Use of Botulinum Toxin for Autonomic Dysfunction Rempel, Lucas; Malik, Raza N.; Shackleton, Claire; Calderón-Juárez, Martín; Sachdeva, Rahul; Krassioukov, Andrei V.

Abstract

Since its regulatory approval over a half-century ago, botulinum toxin has evolved from one of the most potent neurotoxins known to becoming routinely adopted in clinical practice. Botulinum toxin, a highly potent neurotoxin produced by Clostridium botulinum, can cause botulism illness, characterized by widespread muscle weakness due to inhibition of acetylcholine transmission at neuromuscular junctions. The observation of botulinum toxin’s anticholinergic properties led to the investigation of its potential benefits for conditions with an underlying etiology of cholinergic transmission, including autonomic nervous system dysfunction. These conditions range from disorders of the integument to gastrointestinal and urinary systems. Several formulations of botulinum toxin have been developed and tested over time, significantly increasing the availability of this treatment for appropriate clinical use. Despite the accelerated and expanded use of botulinum toxin, there lacks an updated comprehensive review on its therapeutic use, particularly to treat autonomic dysfunction. This narrative review provides an overview of the effect of botulinum toxin in the treatment of autonomic dysfunction and summarizes the different formulations and dosages most widely studied, while highlighting reported outcomes and the occurrence of any adverse events.

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CC BY 4.0