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Use of Botulinum Toxin for Cosmetic Purposes

Organism Biology

Clostridium botulinum is a group of gram-positive bacteria that are capable of producing a toxin known as botulinum neurotoxin (Carter & Peck, 2014). Among the types of bacteria that are specifically responsible for the negative effects that the neurotoxin has on people, one must mention C. botulinum Groups I, II, and III (Carter & Peck, 2014). The strains of the identified groups produce botulinum neurotoxin, which causes flaccid paralysis in people when consumed (Dickey et al., 2016). In addition, the strains of Group I are capable of creating heat-resistant endospores, which allow the bacterium to survive even in the least favorable conditions, thus, jeopardizing people’s lives significantly.

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C. botulinum has a rod-shaped form and is obligate anaerobic. It is capable of moving and belongs to the group of pathogenic microorganisms (Carter & Peck, 2014). The neurotoxins mentioned above, however, can only emerge during the sporulation process. As a result, the development of the botulinum toxin begins. Groups I and II cluster into a larger one, which includes five groups. The latter, in turn, are categorized into fifteen minor subgroups. The creation of the C. botulinum toxin becomes possible due to the ability of each group within the bacterium to obtain foreign DNA. In addition, because of the trajectory in which the gene transfer occurs, i.e., the horizontal route, C. botulinum becomes heat-resistant, thus, increasing the chances of botulism development in people (Dickey et al., 2016). Groups I and II require minimum 4.6 and 5.0 pH for the growth of the toxin, respectively, whereas the amount of NaCl concentration that can inhibit the development of the toxin equals 10% and 5%, respectively (Pirazzini, Rossetto, Eleopra, & Montecucco, 2017). Therefore, the substance is rather toxic and quick to form.

The life cycle of the bacterium is very fast. The process of replication occurs as binary fission, with the direction of 5’ to 3’ (Carter & Peck, 2014). The splitting of the bacterium, in turn, occurs after the synthesis of a new DNA circle is complete. As soon as two separate DNA circles are created, a septum occurs in a cell, and it splits into halves so that two bacteria could emerge.


C. botulinum is typically defined as a very potent toxin (Pirazzini et al., 2017). According to the existing evidence, C. botulinum has a very high rate of oral toxicity. Since the endospores of the bacterium can withstand impressive heat, the scenario involving them contaminating food is very probable. Unheated canned food poses an especially high threat. The bacterium can usually be found in soil. In addition, freshwater sediments may also become the area of the bacterium’s development (Pirazzini et al., 2017). Therefore, the specified areas need to be viewed as the possible setting in which one may develop botulism.


Determining the contraction of C. botulinum bacteria at the earliest stages of the disease development will help not only increase the speed of patients’ recovery but also possibly save their lives. Since the toxins of C. botulinum are highly dangerous for people, it is essential to determine the symptoms as soon as possible and take the necessary measures. Among the key signs of C. botulinum contraction, one needs to mention problems with vision (most notably, the effects of objects being blurred and doubling), speech impediments, and dry mouth (Dickey et al., 2016). However, by far, the most explicit sign of botulism is linked directly to changes in a patient’s muscle system. Because of the paralytic effect that the toxic substance has on patients’ muscles, stiffness and overall weakness caused by the development of flaccid paralysis is witnessed. As soon as the symptoms mentioned above are identified, a patient must be provided with immediate health assistance; otherwise, death may occur. Other symptoms such as fatigue and constipation may also be observed in patients that have been affected by the C. botulinum toxin. Botulism can be contracted in three key ways, which are having the bacterium introduced to a wound, consuming the food that contains the bacterium, and having C. botulinum being transmitted from a mother to a child (Pirazzini et al., 2017). Therefore, caution is required when the factors mentioned above may affect an individual and cause botulism.


The instances of food poisoning have been known for thousands of years, yet the connection between the specified occurrences and the toxins released by C. botulinum was only made in the middle of the 19th century after the bacterium had been discovered (Pirazzini et al., 2017). Particularly, in the 1970s, the symptoms of botulism were detected in newborn children that had C. botulinum spores in their bodies (Simpson et al., 2016). An immediate conclusion was made after more profound analysis of the issue, and C. botulinum became known as the primary cause of botulism development (Pirazzini et al., 2017). Specifically, the further germination of the spores was observed in children, and C. botulinum was proven to be the root cause of botulism. Additional studies of the subject matter have led to the development of numerous tests for detecting the problem at its earliest stages, as well as treatment strategies for handling it.


The faster the disease is detected, the more efficient the treatment will be, which necessitates the use of the respective tests. At present, several tests for determining the presence of botulism need to be carried out in order to define the presence of the disease and the severity of a patient’s state. First, the firmness of a patient’s muscles must be assessed. In case a muscle is excessively weak, the presence of paralysis will be detected, which is one of the primary signs of botulism. In addition, it is also recommended to analyze the samples of a patient’s blood, stool, or vomit to locate the presence of toxins. The identified approach may be adopted in the case of addressing botulism in infants. However, being rather time-consuming, the specified methods of determining the problem are typically viewed as secondary, whereas the assessment of muscle stiffness is typically regarded as the primary approach. Nevertheless, in case more accurate test results are needed, blood analysis and other types of tests are performed. As a result, higher precision of data is attained.

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Cure or Treatment

Different types of botulism require different sets of measures to be applied for addressing a patient’s problem. For example, in the scenario that involves food poisoning, cleaning the digestive system of a patient with the help of laxatives and the medications that induce vomiting are the first steps to be taken. However, in case C. botulinum is introduced to a wound and, thus, the toxins have been released in a patient’s body, the problem will have to be resolved surgically (Koh et al., 2015). Therefore, the choice of measures and the complexity thereof depends vastly on the type of factor to which a patient was exposed to acquire the specified problem. After the first steps to address the issue are taken, antitoxins and antibiotics for removing the rest of the bacteria and controlling the recovery process will have to be administered to a patient. Similarly, antitoxins are used in the scenario that involves the transfer of the C. botulinum bacterium from a mother to a newborn (Pirazzini et al., 2017). As a result, the process of recovery is launched successfully.

Current Research

At present, botulism is viewed as a risk factor for a range of vulnerable populations. Therefore, the active search for improved antitoxins is taking place (Koh et al., 2015). For instance, the focus on pain processing as one of the essential aspects of treating botulism with the help of antitoxins has recently been placed (Pirazzini et al., 2017). In addition, the effects that neurotoxins have on responses toward specific stimuli in patients have recently been observed (Pirazzini et al., 2017). According to the results of the study, recombinant technology tools will be needed to determine the effects of neurotoxins on patients’ perception of pain. Future research on the problem may help resolve an array of issues in the palliative care area (Pellett, Yaksh, & Ramachandran, 2015). Therefore, further studies of C. botulinum and its effects on patients are crucial to the quality of care.

Botulinum Toxin in Cosmetics (Botox Injections)

The toxin uses its hemagglutinin component to determine the host and, therefore, starts affecting it. The toxicity of the substance is extraordinarily high, yet it is used actively for cosmetic purposes despite the range of negative effects that the procedure may have on a patient. Specifically, when being injected into a patient’s muscle, botulinum toxin prevents the acetylcholine neurotransmitter from being released into a patient’s body. As a result, a patient experiences flaccid paralysis in the muscle, which makes the latter incapable of contracting and, thus, forming wrinkles in a patient’s skin (Pirazzini et al., 2017). The specified phenomenon underlies the mechanics of contemporary Botox surgery (Pellett et al., 2015). As a rule, Botox is used to relax the wrinkles located on a forehead, as well as around one’s eyes (Mess, 2017). Although the immediate impact of the C. botulinum neurotoxin might seem quite impressive, it leads to further aggravation of a patient’s state unless addressed. Apart from temporary bruises, which usually follow Botox surgery immediately, hoarseness and difficulties swallowing may occur.

However, after four to six months, the effects of C. botulinum disappear (Pellett et al., 2015). Additionally, eyelid drooping and intense headaches typically occur in patients that receive Botox treatment (Schrey, Airas, Jokela, & Pulkkinen, 2017). In addition, the long-term effects of injecting the C. botulinum toxin into a patient’s body need to be mentioned. Among the positive effects of Botox injections, one must address the fact that it has been proven to help treat dysphagia of different levels of severity (Meaike, Agrawal, Chang, Lee, & Nigro, 2016). Therefore, although the use of Botox in cosmetics leads to rather unfortunate results, its application in managing the needs of patients with dysphagia causes admittedly fast improvements.

After the botulinum toxin is injected into a patient’s body, the train of effects that it has on the muscles can be divided into two phases, the first one being natural diffusion. The outcomes of the identified action vary based on the area of injection, the depth thereof, and the amount of the substance used (Schrey et al., 2017). The further dissipation of the toxin occurs at the second stage when it disseminates further in a patient’s body. The identified process is typically viewed as the byproduct of the first action and the response of the body tissue to the high concentration of the botulinum toxin in the area of the initial injection.


Carter, A. T., & Peck, M. W. (2015). Genomes, neurotoxins and biology of Clostridium botulinum Group I and Group II. Research in Microbiology, 166(4), 303-317. Web.

Dickey, R. M., Louis, M. R., Cox, J. A., Mohan, K., Lee, E. I., & Nigro, M. G. (2016). Noninvasive facial rejuvenation. Part 2: Physician-directed – Neuromodulators and fillers. Seminars in Plastic Surgery, 30(3), 134–142. Web.

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