Botox is a popular trade name in the cosmetic industry that refers to an injectable form of a protein complex produced by the bacteria Clostridium botulinum. Chemically, botox is a neurotoxic protein released by the bacteria, the causal organism of Botulism or food poisoning characterised by paralytic illness.
In cosmetic industry, botox or botulinum toxin is used in very small quantities to treat wrinkles, facial creases and even severe brow furrows.
How Does Botox Work?
Any person, curious to undergo Botox treatment would want to know the methodology of its action before actually taking the treatment. Among the seven different types of toxins released by the bacteria, Botox is Botulinum Type A which finds immense use as a wonder drug to relieve wrinkles especially on the face. In medical terms the action of Botox is defined as muscle denervation.
The Process of Muscular Contraction
Normally, in a muscle there are several nerve endings which connect the muscles to the brain through nerve impulses. For example, when you feel like moving your hands forward, the brain sends a signal to the concerned muscles to contract to bring about the action. Immediately a signal is sent to the nerve endings in the muscle which is transmitted to the muscle by a neuro transmitter called acetylcholine.
In short, when a muscle is about to contract, the nerve endings receive nerve impulses as a result of which it releases a neuro transmitter called acetylcholine. This chemical substance will bind to the muscles and help muscle contraction by bridging the gap between the nerve ending and the muscle fibres and also by initiating associated chemical reactions.
Botox Interfering With Muscular Contraction
In this process of muscular contraction taking place between the muscle fibres and the nerve ending, what is the role of Botox? Botox acts as an anti-wrinkle chemical by inhibiting the action of the neuro transmitter, acetylcholine. When the nerve sends the signal for muscle contraction, release of acetylcholine occurs as in normal condition. But due to the presence of Botox, the action of this chemical is nullified and it fails to bind to the muscles to bring about contraction.
Thus muscular contraction is stopped. However the condition does not imply any damage to the nerve or the muscle, but a temporary paralytic effect is acquired. When Botox is injected on skin surface, the underlying muscle is paralysed and prevented from contracting.
The Science of Botox Blocking Neuro Transmitters
We have seen how Botox is instrumental in holding back muscle contraction by interfering with the neurotransmitters present in the nerve endings of the muscles. The functions of Botox inside the body can be summarized as below:
• Botox gets attached to the nerve endings
• Botox molecule is taken into the nerve cell
• Gets translocated to the nerve fluid
• Blocks release of neurotransmitter- acetylcholine
Inside the nerve fluid, release of acetylcholine involves the action of several proteins called SNAREs (soluble N-ethlymaleimide-sensitive factor attachment protein receptors). Botox blocks the release of acetylcholine by attacking the protein SNAP-25. When release of acetylcholine is inhibited, no muscular contraction takes place and thereby wrinkling is prevented.