Diffusion of Botulinum Toxins
Background: It is generally agreed that diffusion of botulinum toxin occurs, but the extent of the spread and its clinical importance are disputed. Many factors have been suggested to play a role but which have the most clinical relevance is a subject of much discussion.
Methods: This review discusses the variables affecting diffusion, including protein composition and molecular size as well as injection factors (e.g., volume, dose, injection method). It also discusses data on diffusion from comparative studies in animal models and human clinical trials that illustrate differences between the available botulinum toxin products (onabotulinumtoxinA, abobotulinumtoxinA, incobotulinumtoxinA, and rimabotulinumtoxinB).
Results: Neither molecular weight nor the presence of complexing proteins appears to affect diffusion; however, injection volume, concentration, and dose all play roles and are modifiable. Both animal and human studies show that botulinum toxin products are not interchangeable, and that some products are associated with greater diffusion and higher rates of diffusion-related adverse events than others.
Discussion: Each of the botulinum toxins is a unique pharmacologic entity. A working knowledge of the different serotypes is essential to avoid unwanted diffusion-related adverse events. In addition, clinicians should be aware that the factors influencing diffusion may range from properties intrinsic to the drug to accurate muscle selection as well as dilution, volume, and dose injected.