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Lookup NU author(s): Emeritus Professor John Harris
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We report here original data on the biological basis of prolonged neuromuscular paralysis caused by the toxic phospholipase A(2) beta-bungarotoxin. Electron microscopy and immunocytochemical labeling with anti-synaptophysin and anti-neurofilament have been used to show that the early onset of paralysis is associated with the depletion of synaptic vesicles from the motor nerve terminals of skeletal muscle and that this is followed by the destruction of the motor nerve terminal and the degeneration of the cytoskeleton of the intramuscular axons. The postjunctional architecture of the junctions were unaffected and the binding of fluorescein-isothiocyanate-conjugated alpha-bungarotoxin to achetylcholine receptor was not apparently affected by exposure to beta-bungarotoxin. The re-innervation of the muscle fiber was associated by extensive pre- and post-terminal sprouting at 3 to 5 days but was stable by 7 days. Extensive collateral innervation of adjacent muscle fibers was a significant feature of the re-innervated neuromuscular junctions. These findings suggest that the prolonged and severe paralysis seen in victims of envenoming bites by kraits (elapid snakes of the genus Bungarus) and other related snakes of the family Elapidae is caused by the depletion of synaptic vesicles from motor nerve terminals and the degeneration of the motor nerve terminal and intramuscular axons.
Author(s): Harris JB; Dixon RW
Publication type: Article
Publication status: Published
Journal: American Journal of Pathology
Print publication date: 01/02/1999
ISSN (print): 0002-9440
ISSN (electronic): 1525-2191
Publisher: Elsevier Inc.
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