Research uncovers new link between head trauma, CTE and Lou Gehrig's disease

January 15, 2018

Researchers at Western University have uncovered a unique neurobiological pathway triggered by head trauma which underlies both Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE) and Lou Gehrig's disease.

CTE is a fatal neurodegenerative disease shown to be a result of repeated head trauma, and is associated with elite athletes involved in contact sports. Previous research has shown that between 4 and 6 per cent of patients with CTE will also simultaneously show clinical features of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS or Lou Gehrig's Disease) - that's 800 fold higher than the prevalence of ALS in the general population.

The study, published in the January 2018 issue of Neurology®, the medical journal of the American Academy of Neurology, identifies a common neurobiological link between those who have CTE and those who have a variant of ALS that causes cognitive impairment. In addition, the researchers demonstrate that this pathway can be triggered in an experimental model of head trauma.

"The hallmark of CTE, regardless of whether there is ALS or not, is tau aggregate formation. We have now shown that tau aggregates of those who have CTE and those who have this variant of ALS are the same," said Dr. Michael J. Strong, Dean of the Schulich School of Medicine & Dentistry at Western University and principal investigator on the study.

Tau is an important protein in maintaining the structure of neurons in the brain; however when tau is abnormally phosphorylated, it forms piles of tau within a cell, called tau aggregates. These tau aggregates indicate a disease state in the brain.

By studying brain issue from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs-Boston University-Concussion Legacy Foundation Brain Bank, the researchers, based out of Robarts Research Institute at Western were able to show a unique phosphorylation state for tau in both CTE and those with CTE and ALS. The researchers also demonstrated that head trauma in an animal model triggered this process of tau phosphorylation to occur.

"The key is that for the first time, we've provided a window into the pathway by which the pathology for both CTE and the variant of ALS that causes cognitive impairment occurs and begins the critical trail of finding a treatment," said Strong.
-end-
MEDIA CONTACT: Crystal Mackay, Media Relations Officer, Schulich School of Medicine & Dentistry, Western University, t. 519.661.2111 ext. 80387, c. 519.933.5944, crystal.mackay@schulich.uwo.ca@CrystalMackay

ABOUT WESTERN

Western delivers an academic experience second to none. Since 1878, The Western Experience has combined academic excellence with life-long opportunities for intellectual, social and cultural growth in order to better serve our communities. Our research excellence expands knowledge and drives discovery with real-world application. Western attracts individuals with a broad worldview, seeking to study, influence and lead in the international community.

ABOUT THE SCHULICH SCHOOL OF MEDICINE & DENTISTRY

The Schulich School of Medicine & Dentistry at Western University is one of Canada's preeminent medical and dental schools. Established in 1881, it was one of the founding schools of Western University and is known for being the birthplace of family medicine in Canada. For more than 130 years, the School has demonstrated a commitment to academic excellence and a passion for scientific discovery.

University of Western Ontario

Related Cognitive Impairment Articles from Brightsurf:

Professional athletes may not suffer more severe cognitive impairment than others, study indicates
DALLAS - Nov. 11, 2020 - Even though repeated hits to the head are common in professional sports, the long-term effects of concussions are still poorly understood.

Actively speaking two languages protects against cognitive impairment
A study has shown that Alzheimer's patients with a higher degree of bilingualism receive a later diagnosis of mild cognitive impairment

USPSTF statement on screening for cognitive impairment in older adults
The US Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) concludes that current evidence is insufficient to make a recommendation about screening for cognitive impairment in adults 65 or older.

Scientists discover link between autism and cognitive impairment
Scientists have found how a single gene fragment impacts social behaviour and cognitive ability, revealing a common molecular mechanism for autism and Fragile X syndrome.

Mild cognitive impairment, ISS produces the first epidemiological estimation
In a study published in the Journal of Alzheimer's Disease, ISS researchers estimated about 680,000 cases of mild cognitive impairment (MCI), in a total of 12,730,960 migrants, aged between 60 and 89 years, living in the European Union (EU) in 2018.

Research underscores value of cognitive training for adults with mild cognitive impairment
Researchers at the Center for BrainHealth®, part of The University of Texas at Dallas, combined two non-pharmacological interventions for adults with Mild Cognitive Impairment (MCI): eight sessions of Strategic Memory Advanced Reasoning Training (SMART), a cognitive training program shown to improve reasoning and ability to extract bottom-line messages from complex information; and Transcranial Direct Current Stimulation (tDCS) over the left frontal region, associated with cognitive control and memory recovery success in people with Alzheimer's.

Kidney disease triggers cognitive impairment, even in early stages
Chronic kidney disease (CKD) is increasingly recognized as a systemic condition.

Lowering blood pressure reduces risk of cognitive impairment
Intensive control of blood pressure in older people significantly reduced the risk of developing mild cognitive impairment (MCI), a precursor of early dementia, in a clinical trial led by scientists at Wake Forest School of Medicine, part of Wake Forest Baptist Health.

Advances in the study of drugs to combat cognitive impairment in schizophrenia
A study by the UPV/EHU has assessed the effectiveness of various drugs, which are used to delay cognitive deterioration in patients with Alzheimer's, in improving cognitive impairment displayed by patients with schizophrenia.

Antioxidants may prevent cognitive impairment in diabetes
Cognitive difficulties in patients with diabetes, caused by repeated episodes of low blood sugar, could be reduced with antioxidants, according to a new study presented at the Society for Endocrinology annual conference in Glasgow.

Read More: Cognitive Impairment News and Cognitive Impairment Current Events
Brightsurf.com is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.