Acute botulinum toxin-induced muscle weakness in the anterior cruciate ligament-deficient rabbit

J Orthop Res. 2005 Nov;23(6):1404-10. doi: 10.1016/j.orthres.2005.02.014.1100230624.


We established botulinum type-A toxin (BTX-A) injections as a powerful tool to cause knee extensor weakness in New Zealand White (NZW) rabbits. The purpose of this study was to determine if BTX-A induced quadriceps weakness causes muscle dysfunction beyond that caused by anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) transection in the knee of NZW rabbits. Twenty animals were randomly divided into four study groups (n=5 each); uninjected controls, BTX-A injection alone, ACL transection alone, BTX-A injection and ACL transection combined. Isometric knee extensor torque, quadriceps muscle mass, and vertical and anterior-posterior ground reaction forces were measured four weeks post single (BTX-A and ACL), unilateral intervention. Muscle weakness, muscle atrophy and decrease in ground reaction forces were all significantly greater for the experimental compared to the untreated contralateral legs. BTX-A injection produced a greater deficit in quadriceps mass and knee extensor torque than ACL transection alone, but produced smaller deficits in the ground reaction forces. ACL transection superimposed on BTX-A injection did not change either knee extensor torque production or muscle mass. Together these results suggest that BTX-A injection causes great force and muscle mass deficits, and affects functional gait in a significant manner, but it has no measurable functional effect when superimposed on ACL transection, at least not in the acute protocol tested here. Hopefully, BTX-A injection for acutely enhancing the degree of muscle weakness in otherwise untreated animals, or in experimental models of osteoarthritis, will help in investigating the role of muscle weakness in joint degeneration.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Anterior Cruciate Ligament Injuries*
  • Botulinum Toxins / toxicity*
  • Gait
  • Joint Instability / physiopathology*
  • Knee Injuries / physiopathology*
  • Muscle Weakness / chemically induced*
  • Muscle Weakness / physiopathology
  • Muscular Atrophy / etiology
  • Rabbits
  • Torque


  • Botulinum Toxins