Repeated head injury causes neurodegeneration, but link to ALS less clear

The study, “Microglial neuroinflammation contributes to tau accumulation in chronic traumatic encephalopathy,” was published in the journal Acta NeuropathologicaCommunications.

Chronic traumatic encephalopathy is something most people don’t have to worry about. For athletes and others who repeatedly get blows to the head — even milder ones that do not cause concussion — the neurodegenerative condition is a real risk.

The condition causes neurodegeneration, and researchers have noted that it shares certain features with other degenerative conditions.

To understand how repeated head injury can cause neurodegeneration, researchers from Boston University School of Medicine (BUSM) and the VA Boston Healthcare System examined the brains of 66 deceased American football players, comparing them to 16 controls who were not athletes.

The research team first counted different types of inflammatory cells, as well as the amount of phosphorylated tau — abnormal proteins that are common in Alzheimer’s disease and which have also been found in ALS.

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