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J Neurotrauma. 2014 Jul 1;31(13):1129-38. doi: 10.1089/neu.2013.3303. Epub 2014 Apr 11.

Linking traumatic brain injury to chronic traumatic encephalopathy: identification of potential mechanisms leading to neurofibrillary tangle development.

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1 Department of Neurosurgery, West Virginia University School of Medicine , Morgantown, West Virginia.


Significant attention has recently been drawn to the potential link between head trauma and the development of neurodegenerative disease, namely chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE). The acute neurotrauma associated with sports-related concussions in athletes and blast-induced traumatic brain injury in soldiers elevates the risk for future development of chronic neurodegenerative diseases such as CTE. CTE is a progressive disease distinguished by characteristic tau neurofibrillary tangles (NFTs) and, occasionally, transactive response DNA binding protein 43 (TDP43) oligomers, both of which have a predilection for perivascular and subcortical areas near reactive astrocytes and microglia. The disease is currently only diagnosed postmortem by neuropathological identification of NFTs. A recent workshop sponsored by National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke emphasized the need for premortem diagnosis, to better understand disease pathophysiology and to develop targeted treatments. In order to accomplish this objective, it is necessary to discover the mechanistic link between acute neurotrauma and the development of chronic neurodegenerative and neuropsychiatric disorders such as CTE. In this review, we briefly summarize what is currently known about CTE development and pathophysiology, and subsequently discuss injury-induced pathways that warrant further investigation. Understanding the mechanistic link between acute brain injury and chronic neurodegeneration will facilitate the development of appropriate diagnostic and therapeutic options for CTE and other related disorders.


chronic traumatic encephalopathy; neurofibrillary tangles

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