In this study, we demonstrate that botulinum toxin can be used to chemically denervate muscles to test functional hypotheses. We injected research-grade type A botulinum toxin complex into pectoral fin abductors (abductor superficialis) of green sunfish (Lepomis cyanellus) to determine whether chemical denervation would eliminate the ability of a particular muscle to contribute to overall pectoral fin movements. Reduction of target muscle activity occurred within 8 d of the injection, and paralysis was confirmed using electromyography. No paralysis was seen in the adjacent muscles (abductor profundus) or in positive controls (saline injections). Paralysis occurred more slowly and at lower doses than previously documented for mammals. However, botulinum toxin complex (500 kDa) was used here, whereas previous studies have used purified toxin (150 kDa). Therefore, differences in physiological responses between fish and mammals cannot yet be distinguished from differences caused by the toxin type. However, we note that the toxin complex is less likely to diffuse across muscle fascia (because it is large), which should minimize paralytic effects on adjacent muscles. We suggest that botulinum toxin holds great promise as a chemical denervation agent in functional studies of animal locomotion and feeding behaviors.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Animal Science and Zoology