CTE is confirmed as a unique disease that can be definitively diagnosed

December 15, 2015

(Boston)--For the first time, CTE has been confirmed as a unique disease that can be definitively diagnosed by neuropathological examination of brain tissue. A consensus panel of expert neuropathologists concluded that CTE has a pathognomonic signature in the brain, an advance that represents a milestone for CTE research and lays the foundation for future studies defining the clinical symptoms, genetic risk factors and therapeutic strategies for CTE.

The neuropathological criteria defining CTE, or the NINDS CTE criteria, which appear in the journal Acta Neuropathologica, had been announced earlier this year at the Foundation of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) board meeting.

CTE is a progressive degenerative disease of the brain found in persons with a history of repetitive brain trauma, including symptomatic concussions as well as asymptomatic sub-concussive hits to the head. The trauma triggers progressive degeneration of the brain tissue, including the build-up of an abnormal protein called tau. These changes in the brain can begin months, years or even decades after the last brain trauma or end of active athletic involvement. The brain degeneration is associated with memory loss, confusion, impaired judgment, impulse control problems, aggression, depression, and, eventually, progressive dementia.

A consensus panel of seven neuropathologists independently reviewed slides from 25 cases of different diseases associated with tau deposits in the brain, completely blinded to all clinical information, including age, sex, clinical symptoms and athletic exposure using provisional diagnostic criteria for CTE developed by Ann McKee, MD, Director of the CTE Program at Boston University and Chief of Neuropathology, VA Boston Healthcare System. The neuropathologists concluded that the criteria distinguished CTE from other tauopathies, including aging and Alzheimer's disease, and that CTE had a unique pathological signature in the brain.

According to McKee, neuropathologists agreed on the diagnosis of CTE and confirmed the interim standards. "The specific feature considered unique to CTE was the abnormal perivascular accumulation of tau in neurons, astrocytes and cell processes in an irregular pattern at the depths of the cortical sulci," explained McKee who is corresponding author of the study. "This lesion was not characteristic of any of the other disorders, including Alzheimer's disease, age-related tauopathy or progressive supranuclear palsy, and has only been found in individuals who were exposed to brain trauma, typically multiple episodes," she added.
-end-
Funding for this study was provided by the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (1U01NS086659-01, R01NS078337, R56NS078337, R01NS095252), Department of Defense (W81XWH-13-2-0064, W81XWH-14-1-0399), Department of Veterans Affairs, the Veterans Affairs Biorepository (CSP 501), the National Institute of Aging Boston University Alzheimer's Disease Center (P30AG13846; supplement 0572063345-5), Department of Defense Peer Reviewed Alzheimer's Research Program (DoD-PRARP #13267017), the National Institute of Aging Boston University Framingham Heart Study (R01AG1649), the National Operating Committee on Standards for Athletic Equipment and the Concussion Legacy Foundation. This work was also supported by unrestricted gifts from the Andlinger Foundation, WWE and the National Football League as well as by grants P50 AG05681 and P01 AG03991 from the National Institute on Aging (NJC).

Contact: Gina DiGravio, 617-638-8480, ginad@bu.edu

Boston University Medical Center

Related Brain Articles from Brightsurf:

Glioblastoma nanomedicine crosses into brain in mice, eradicates recurring brain cancer
A new synthetic protein nanoparticle capable of slipping past the nearly impermeable blood-brain barrier in mice could deliver cancer-killing drugs directly to malignant brain tumors, new research from the University of Michigan shows.

Children with asymptomatic brain bleeds as newborns show normal brain development at age 2
A study by UNC researchers finds that neurodevelopmental scores and gray matter volumes at age two years did not differ between children who had MRI-confirmed asymptomatic subdural hemorrhages when they were neonates, compared to children with no history of subdural hemorrhage.

New model of human brain 'conversations' could inform research on brain disease, cognition
A team of Indiana University neuroscientists has built a new model of human brain networks that sheds light on how the brain functions.

Human brain size gene triggers bigger brain in monkeys
Dresden and Japanese researchers show that a human-specific gene causes a larger neocortex in the common marmoset, a non-human primate.

Unique insight into development of the human brain: Model of the early embryonic brain
Stem cell researchers from the University of Copenhagen have designed a model of an early embryonic brain.

An optical brain-to-brain interface supports information exchange for locomotion control
Chinese researchers established an optical BtBI that supports rapid information transmission for precise locomotion control, thus providing a proof-of-principle demonstration of fast BtBI for real-time behavioral control.

Transplanting human nerve cells into a mouse brain reveals how they wire into brain circuits
A team of researchers led by Pierre Vanderhaeghen and Vincent Bonin (VIB-KU Leuven, Université libre de Bruxelles and NERF) showed how human nerve cells can develop at their own pace, and form highly precise connections with the surrounding mouse brain cells.

Brain scans reveal how the human brain compensates when one hemisphere is removed
Researchers studying six adults who had one of their brain hemispheres removed during childhood to reduce epileptic seizures found that the remaining half of the brain formed unusually strong connections between different functional brain networks, which potentially help the body to function as if the brain were intact.

Alcohol byproduct contributes to brain chemistry changes in specific brain regions
Study of mouse models provides clear implications for new targets to treat alcohol use disorder and fetal alcohol syndrome.

Scientists predict the areas of the brain to stimulate transitions between different brain states
Using a computer model of the brain, Gustavo Deco, director of the Center for Brain and Cognition, and Josephine Cruzat, a member of his team, together with a group of international collaborators, have developed an innovative method published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences on Sept.

Read More: Brain News and Brain 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.