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Study Looks at Pathology of CTE in American Football Players

Last Updated: February 21, 2019.

American football players frequently have chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), with age-related evolution in CTE-related ptau pathology, according to a study presented at the annual meeting of the Association of Academic Physiatrists, held from Feb. 19 to 23 in San Juan, Puerto Rico.

THURSDAY, Feb. 21, 2019 (HealthDay News) -- American football players frequently have chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), with age-related evolution in CTE-related ptau pathology, according to a study presented at the annual meeting of the Association of Academic Physiatrists, held from Feb. 19 to 23 in San Juan, Puerto Rico.

Daniel Daneshvar, M.D., Ph.D., from the Boston University School of Medicine, and colleagues conducted a study involving brains of deceased American football players. Neuropathologists performed neuropathological evaluations and were blinded to clinical findings.

The researchers found that 177 of the American football players (87 percent) were diagnosed with CTE neuropathologically. There was age-dependent evolution in CTE-related ptau pathology, from focal cortical lesions in teenagers and young adults to a severe neurofibrillary neurodegeneration at midlife, which involved the medial temporal lobes and widespread brain regions. With increased age, neurofibrillary degeneration advanced, in concert with deposition of beta amyloid, alpha synuclein, and TAR DNA-binding protein 43. During life, reported cognitive, behavioral, mood, and motor symptoms were often present. The frequency of CTE was higher for professional players compared with college football players. In addition, professional players more frequently died at an advanced stage of CTE and were more often diagnosed with dementia.

"Now that we have gathered this large collection of donated tissue from individuals diagnosed with CTE, including brains, spinal cords, and eyes, we are well positioned to understand the risks for CTE," Daneshvar said in a statement.

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