Botox treatment has been gaining popularity over the past few decades, with an increasing number of younger adults seeking the treatment for smoothening their wrinkles, correcting their frown lines, and combating the signs of aging.

However, when choosing Botox to get the best looks, it is also important to understand the drugs used for the procedure can cause paralysis. A recent study from the University of Queensland has determined how Botox enters the brain cells and affects neurons to cause paralysis.

Botox is a toxin produced by the bacterium Clostridium botulinum. The treatment was initially developed for eye conditions such as strabismus and as a quick remedy to relieve migraine and chronic pain.

However, in recent years, Botox treatment found uses in plastic surgeries and gained popularity in the cosmetic industry. It is estimated that 3.6 million people received cosmetic injections in 2021, and the market is expected to reach $15.4 billion by 2030. According to the latest surveys, 8% of U.S. adults have attempted non-invasive cosmetic treatments involving procedures, such as Botox injections.

Although muscle paralysis was a known side effect of Botox treatment, earlier research could not identify how the neurotoxin worked to relax muscles.

In the latest study, the researchers evaluated how Clostridium botulinum damages the communication between the brain neurons, resulting in paralysis.

"We used super-resolution microscopy to show that a receptor called Synaptotagmin 1 binds to two other previously known clostridial neurotoxin receptors to form a tiny complex that sits on the plasma membrane of neurons," Frederic Meunier, a lead-author of the study, said.

"The toxin hijacks this complex and enters the synaptic vesicles, which store neurotransmitters critical to communication between neurons. Botox then interrupts the communication between nerves and muscle cells, causing paralysis," Meunier explained.

The discovery also opens the potential to identify new therapeutic targets for effective treatments of botulism--a rare but potentially fatal bacterial infection caused by Clostridium botulinum.

"Clostridial neurotoxins are among the most potent protein toxins known to humans. We now have a full picture of how these toxins are internalized to intoxicate neurons at therapeutically relevant concentrations," Dr. Merja Joensuu, another co-researcher of the study from UQ's Queensland Brain Institute, said.

A recent study has determined how Botox enters the brain cells and affects neurons to cause paralysis. Andreas Rentz/Getty Images