PET Scan Detects Brain Damage in Retired NFL Players

Share
Copy

Brain Damage Detected in NFL Players

Cases and controls were both about 60 years of age. The affected players had significantly higher scores on the Hamilton Rating Scale for Depression (8 versus 0) than controls, and also showed a trend toward lower scores on the Mini-Mental State Examination, which evaluates cognitive impairment.

Higher signals for tau binding were seen in a number of subcortical regions in cases compared with controls. The researchers explained that this pattern of findings was different from that seen in patients with cognitive difficulties but no history of head trauma, in elderly depressed patients, and in those with Alzheimer's disease.

While FDDNP can bind to both tau and amyloid in Alzheimer's patients, only a minority of CTE autopsies have identified amyloid plaques, suggesting that in these players, the high levels of binding signals are specific for tau.

"Using a tau marker for detection and tracking of neurodegenerative disease is critically important because severity of tau load, rather than amyloid burden, correlates with rates of neuronal loss," the researchers explained.

They noted that their findings should be interpreted with caution because of the limited number of players and the possibility that other factors such as genetics and overall cerebrovascular health might influence outcomes.

Small expressed hope that, if this diagnostic approach proves accurate in larger numbers, it may open the way to possible treatments.

"We know that inflammation is important both in Alzheimer's disease and traumatic brain injury, and in Alzheimer's we're testing anti-inflammatory and anti-tau treatments," he said.

"We also know that lifestyle choices and everyday health habits including diet, exercise, and stress management are important in protecting our brains," he added.

Page
  • 1
  • |
  • 2
Join the Discussion
You are using an outdated version of Internet Explorer. Please click here to upgrade your browser in order to comment.
blog comments powered by Disqus
 
You Might Also Like...
See It, Share It
PHOTO: Debra Messing, left, attending the premiere of Smash in New York City on Jan. 26, 2012 and right, attending the Broadway opening of Outside Mullingar on Jan. 23, 2014 in New York.
Jim Spellman/Getty Images | Bruce Glikas/Getty Images
Baby Lemur Relaxes on Mom
Jens Meyer/AP Photo