Naunyn-Schmiedeberg's Archives of Pharmacology

, Volume 312, Issue 3, pp 255–263

Blockade by tetanus and botulinum A toxin of postganglionic cholinergic nerve endings in the myenteric plexus

  • H. Bigalke
  • E. Habermann

DOI: 10.1007/BF00499155

Cite this article as:
Bigalke, H. & Habermann, E. Naunyn-Schmiedeberg's Arch. Pharmacol. (1980) 312: 255. doi:10.1007/BF00499155


The effects of tetanus and botulinum A toxin were studied on the electrically stimulated myenteric plexus-ileum strip of the guinea pig. The concentrations used were in the range of 104–106 mouse LD50/ml.
  1. 1.

    Tetanus and botulinu, A toxin slowly decrease the amplitude of the contractile response to field stimulation in a dose-dependent manner without influencing the sensitivity to acetylcholine of the smooth muscle.

  2. 2.

    Development of paralysis is preceded by a latent period. Washing and antitoxin slow the paralytic process only when applied during the latent period.

  3. 3.

    The time course of development of paralysis depends on the activity of the strip. It can be slowed by rest, high [Mg2+], or low [Ca2+], and accelerated by raising the stimulation frequency.

  4. 4.

    Substances like 4-aminopyridine, sea anemone toxin II and scorpion toxin which prolong the membrane depolarization restore temporarily the contraction of partially paralysed muscle strips.

  5. 5.

    Poisoned preparations do not differ from controls in their total acetylcholine contents, whereas formation as well as release of [3H]-acetylcholine are decreased by either toxin.


It is concluded that a) tetanus toxin and botulinum A toxin are qualitatively indistinguishable with respect to their actions on the postganglionic cholinergic neurons in the ileum, botulinum A toxin being 5 times more potent than tetanus toxin, b) the effects of the toxins at postganglionic cholinergic neurons in the ileum and at motor nerve endings are qualitatively similar, botulinum A toxin being about 500 times more potent than tetanus toxin at the latter preparation (see Habermann et al., 1980b, c) both toxins influence the turnover of acetylcholine but not its tissue concentration.

Key words

Acetylcholine Tetanus toxin Botulinum toxin Myenteric plexus Transmitter release 

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 1980

Authors and Affiliations

  • H. Bigalke
    • 1
  • E. Habermann
    • 1
  1. 1.Rudolf-Buchheim-Institut für Pharmakologie der Justus-Liebig-Universität GießenGießenGermany

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