Author(s): Rosales RL, Dressler D
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Abstract Dystonia may produce co-contractions and constant strain in numerous muscle fibers, including those of the muscle spindles. As proprioceptors, muscle spindles detect dynamic or static changes in muscle length and their afferent projections to the spinal cord play a central role in control of antagonistic muscles. Their parallel arrangement with extrafusal muscle fibers and association with the earlier recruited oxidative motor units allow them to conveniently sample the activity of all motor units and effectively modulate movement. At the same time, fusimotor muscle spindle innervation contracts the striated polar portions of the intrafusal muscle fibers and prevents their slackening during extrafusal muscle contractions. Botulinum toxin remains the most efficient therapy of dystonia. Its muscular mechanism of action is hinged on cholinergic blockade not only of extrafusal, but also of intrafusal muscle fibers. Besides being a targeted muscular therapy, the alteration of the corresponding sensory input following an effect of botulinum toxin on the intrafusal muscle fibers is pivotal in modulating loss of pre-synaptic inhibition in dystonia, including suppression of the tonic vibration reflex. Whether or not trans-synaptic botulinum toxin migration occurs, a modification of the central motor programming is bound to happen in dystonia, with botulinum toxin acting either as another 'sensory trick' or as a form of 'short-term plasticity'. Knowledge of the muscle spindle anatomy and function is key to unify our understanding of abnormal movements and of effects of botulinum toxin therapy. Thus, in dystonia, overactivity of muscles and increased spindle sensitivity are germane to botulinum toxin targets of action.
This article was published in Eur J Neurol
and referenced in International Journal of Neurorehabilitation