Neurodegenerative Disorders; Nearly 6% of athletes and non athletes were found to have the neurodegenerative disorder chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) in the largest, and broadest, study conducted of the disease to date. The findings were published June 14 in the international journal Brain Pathology.
Generally our findings point to CTE being more common in athletes and more common in football players; but this study is a bit more balance and accurately reflects the general population; so compare to previous studies, said lead author Kevin Bieniek, Ph.D., of UT Health San Antonio. Dr. Bieniek led the research while at the Mayo Clinic before moving to Texas.
The autopsied brains
He now directs the brain bank at the Glenn Biggs Institute for Alzheimer’s and Neurodegenerative Diseases; which is part of UT Health San Antonio. CTE, linked with repetitive blows to the head, has find in 80-99% of autopsied brains of pro football players. Nobody has really looked at it from kind of an epidemiological perspective, Dr. Bieniek said.
They compared people who played a sport with those who didn’t play. They study both young and old people, and amateur players versus college and professional players. And they studied both men and women, which had not been done previously. What they aim to do was an unbiased screen for CTE from all sorts of different cases.
The team scan obituaries and high school yearbooks of 2,566 individuals whose brain autopsies are a part of the Mayo Clinic Tissue Registry. The study focus on a variety of contact sports: baseball, basketball, boxing, football, hockey, lacrosse, soccer and wrestling. Non-contact sports, such as golf and tennis, were exclude.
A small number of cases, 42, had CTE pathology (5.6% of the total). CTE was find in 27 athletes and 15 non-athletes, and in 41 men and one woman. American football had the highest frequency of CTE (15%) of the contact sports studied, with participation beyond high school resulting in the highest risk of developing CTE.
The 42 cases, or 6%, is more of a ground, realistic number, Dr. Bieniek said. That might not seem like a lot, but when you consider there are millions of youth; so high school and collegiate athletes in the United States alone who play organize sports, it has the potential of being a significant public health issue.
Cases with CTE tend to be a bit older than the cases without it, and many CTE cases also show evidence of Alzheimer’s disease. At the Glenn Biggs Institute, they study the concept of multiple neurodegenerative disorders; which happening within the brain of a person who has dementia, Dr. Bieniek said.
This is an important national study led by our brain bank director, Dr. Bieniek, said Sudha Seshadri, M.D., professor of neurology at UT Health San Antonio and director of the Glenn Biggs Institute. They have a great team of scientists at the Biggs Institute; also the brain bank is key to the research aims of these investigators.
They are so grateful for the many patients and normal older persons; so who have sign on to be brain donors after their death. The program runs 24/7/365, is free to the family; also gives the family the peace and knowledge of a definitive diagnosis for their loved one’s condition. Several studies relate to traumatic brain injuries and CTE by Dr. Bieniek and his colleagues are currently ongoing at UT Health San Antonio, including how certain genetic variants might protect or put a person at higher risk for developing CTE.