Central effects of tetanus and botulinum neurotoxins

Toxicon. 2009 Oct;54(5):593-9. doi: 10.1016/j.toxicon.2008.12.026. Epub 2009 Mar 3.


Tetanus neurotoxin (TeNT) and botulinum neurotoxins (BoNTs; from A to G) are metalloproteases that act on nerve terminals to prevent exocytosis. They are extensively exploited for the study of cellular physiology. Moreover, BoNTs are also employed in clinical neurology for the treatment of several disorders characterized by hyperexcitability of peripheral nerve terminals. This review summarizes recent studies that have provided a deeper understanding of the mode of action of TeNT and BoNTs. TeNT and BoNTs bind with extreme specificity and are internalized at the neuromuscular junction. We first examine the retrograde transport mechanisms by which TeNT gains access to the central nervous system. We also discuss recent findings indicating that, besides their well known local actions at the neuromuscular junction, BoNTs can also affect central circuits.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Botulinum Toxins / metabolism*
  • Botulinum Toxins / pharmacology
  • Central Nervous System / drug effects
  • Central Nervous System / metabolism*
  • Exocytosis / drug effects
  • Humans
  • Metalloproteases / metabolism*
  • Metalloproteases / pharmacology
  • Motor Neurons / drug effects
  • Motor Neurons / metabolism
  • Neural Pathways / drug effects
  • Neural Pathways / metabolism
  • Neurotoxins / metabolism*
  • Neurotoxins / pharmacology
  • Protein Binding
  • Synaptic Transmission / drug effects
  • Tetanus Toxin / metabolism*
  • Tetanus Toxin / pharmacology


  • Neurotoxins
  • Tetanus Toxin
  • Metalloproteases
  • Botulinum Toxins