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Papers of the Week

2020 Jul 30

Sci Rep



Postmarketing safety surveillance data reveals antidepressant effects of botulinum toxin across various indications and injection sites.


The World Health Organization estimates the number of people suffering from depression to be over 264 million. Current monoamine transmission modulating therapeutics, even with proper adherence and acceptable tolerability, are not effective for nearly one third of the patients, leading clinicians to explore other therapeutic options such as electroconvulsive therapy, transcranial magnetic stimulation, ketamine infusions, and, more recently, glabellar botulinum toxin, BoNT, injections. The scale and mechanism of antidepressant action of BoNT is unclear and maybe hypothetically attributed to the disruption of proprioceptive facial feedback reinforcing negative emotions. Here we verify the antidepressant effect of botulinum toxin by analysis of over 40 thousand BoNT treatment reports out of thirteen million postmarketing safety reports in the FDA Adverse Event Reporting System, FAERS. The results of the analysis indicate that patients who received BoNT injections to treat hyperhidrosis, facial wrinkles, migraine prophylaxis, spasticity, and spasms, had a significantly lower number of depression reports when compared to patients undergoing different treatments for the same conditions. These findings suggest that the antidepressant effect of BoNT is significant, and, surprisingly, is observed for a broad range of injection sites.