What Is A Neurotoxin?

Neurotoxin is a type of toxin which disturbs the action of nerves and neurons. It may block neuron function temporarily or permanently. Neurotoxins not only effect adult nerve fibers but also developing ones. The effect of the neurotoxin on an animal depends upon the species of animal, age of the animal, health of the animal (especially renal and hepatic health).

Effect of Neurotoxins on the Human Body

Neurotoxin effect mainly nerves fibers, leading to blockage of the nerve impulse by changing or altering the concentration of ions at the synapse. Microscopic local pathology of neurotoxin includes neuron excitotoxicity or apoptosis and glial cell damage. Neurotoxicity can result in central nervous damage, intellectual damage, epilepsy, dementia, and persistent memory impairment. Myopathy can also occur in the case of neurotoxicity but varies from toxin to toxin. Other common neurotoxicity effects can be respiratory impairment, gastric distress, fluctuating blood pressure, cerebral infarction, or myocardial infarction.

Some Neurotoxin Producing Animals

Many speices of venomous animals have neurotoxic venom. However, remember, they use their venom for defense and capturing prey. Kraits produces alpha-bungarotoxin and beta-bungarotoxin which block acetylcholine receptors and potassium channels. Black Mamba produces Calciseptine which block calcium channels; Cobra produces cobrotoxin which blocks nicotinic receptors; Australian Taipan snake produce Taicatoxin and Taipoxin that inhibit calcium channels and release of acetylcholine.


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