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J Zhejiang Univ Sci B. 2013 Nov;14(11):983-92. doi: 10.1631/jzus.B1300021.

Influence of injection of Chinese botulinum toxin type A on the histomorphology and myosin heavy chain composition of rat gastrocnemius muscles.

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Department of Neurology, Sir Run Run Shaw Hospital, School of Medicine, Zhejiang University, Hangzhou 310016, China; Department of Endocrinology, the First Affiliated Hospital, School of Medicine, Zhejiang University, Hangzhou 310003, China.



Botulinum toxin type A (BoNT/A) is a metalloprotease that blocks synaptic transmission via the cleavage of a synaptosomal-associated protein of 25 kDa (SNAP-25). It has gained widespread use as a treatment for cerebral palsy and skeletal muscle hypertrophy. In China, Chinese botulinum toxin type A (CBTX-A), a type of BoNT/A, is in widespread clinical use. However, the changes in the morphological and biochemical properties of treated muscles and in remote muscles from the CBTX-A injection site are relatively unknown. Therefore, we investigated the changes in histomorphology and myosin heavy chain (MyHC) isoform composition and distribution in rat gastrocnemius muscles after intramuscular injection of CBTX-A.


The weakness of the injected muscles was assessed periodically to identify their functional deficiency. Muscle slices were stained with hematoxylin-eosin (HE) and adenosine triphosphatase (ATPase). MyHC isoform composition was analyzed by sodium dodecyl sulfate-polyacrylamide gel electrophoresis (SDS-PAGE) to uncover changes in morphological and biochemical properties.


Our findings demonstrate that following injection of CBTX-A 5 U into rat gastrocnemius muscles, shifts in MyHC isoform composition emerged on the third day after injection and peaked in the fourth week. The composition remained distinctly different from that of the control group after the twelfth week. More specifically, there was a decrease in the proportion of the type IIb isoform and an increase in the proportions of type IIx, type IIa, and type I isoforms.


Data revealed that CBTX-A led to a shift in MyHC composition towards slower isoforms and that the MyHC composition remained far from normal six months after a single injection. However, no noticeable remote muscle weakness was induced.

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