[Late-onset Neurodegenerative Diseases Following Traumatic Brain Injury: Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE) and Alzheimer's Disease Secondary to TBI (AD-TBI)].Brain Nerve 2016; 68(7):849-57BN
Chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) is a neurodegenerative disease, which is associated with mild repetitive traumatic brain injury (TBI). This long-term and progressive symptom due to TBI was initially called punch-drunk syndrome or dementia pugilistica, since it was believed to be associated with boxing. However, serial neuropathological studies of mild repetitive TBI in the last decade have revealed that CTE occurs not only in boxers but also in a wider population including American football players, wrestlers, and military personnel. CTE has gained large public interest owing to dramatic cases involving retired professional athletes wherein serious behavioral problems and tragic incidents were reported. Unlike mild repetitive TBI, a single episode of severe TBI can cause another type of late-onset neuropsychiatric disease including Alzheimer's disease (AD). Several epidemiological studies have shown that a single episode of severe TBI is one of the major risk factors of AD. Pathologically, both AD and CTE are characterized by abnormal accumulations of hyperphosphorylated tau proteins. However, recent neuropathological studies revealed that CTE demonstrates a unique pattern of tau pathology in neurons and astrocytes, and accumulation of other misfolded proteins such as TDP-43. Currently, no reliable biomarkers of late-onset neurodegenerative diseases following TBI are available, and a definitive diagnosis can be made only via postmortem neuropathological examination. Development in neuroimaging techniques such as tau and amyloid positron emission tomography imaging might not only enable early diagnosis of CTE, but also contribute to the interventions for prevention of late-onset neurodegenerative diseases following TBI. Further studies are necessary to elucidate the mechanisms of neurodegeneration in the living brain of patients with TBI.