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May 1988

Motoneuron Uptake From the Circulation of the Binding Fragment of Tetanus Toxin

Author Affiliations

From The Department of Neurology, University of Maryland School of Medicine, and the Veterans Administration Research Laboratories, Baltimore.

Arch Neurol. 1988;45(5):558-561. doi:10.1001/archneur.1988.00520290094020

• Tetanus toxin enters the central nervous system from the systemic circulation after it is internalized by motoneuron terminals at the neuromuscular junction. We have demonstrated that the atoxic binding fragment (C-fragment) of tetanus toxin is internalized preferentially by motoneurons. We examined the distribution of C-fragment after intravenous injection in the nervous systems of mice by immunohistochemical methods. All animals remained asymptomatic until killed one to two days after injection. C-fragment was found only within neurons with processes outside the blood-brain barrier. Large motoneurons of the spinal cord showed the greatest accumulation of C-fragment. Motoneurons of brain-stem nuclei (particularly facial and trigeminal), also showed substantial label of C-fragment. Small amounts of C-fragment were detected in dorsal root ganglion cells. Affinity of a systemically distributed substance for synaptic components, as well as an inability to cross the blood-brain barrier, may lead to its preferential localization in motoneurons.

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