Neuroscientist Available to Discuss Traumatic Brain Injury and Brain Disease
The National Institutes of Health announced yesterday that former NFL linebacker Junior Seau, who committed suicide last year, had chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), a neurodegenerative brain disease that can be associated with repeated blows to the head.
In research published in The Journal of Neuroscience, Tufts University School of Medicine neuroscientist Giuseppina Tesco, M.D., Ph.D., and colleagues found that a single moderate to severe traumatic brain injury (TBI) can disrupt proteins that regulate an enzyme associated with Alzheimer’s. Tesco’s study, performed in mice and utilizing post-mortem brain samples from patients with Alzheimer’s, found that a serious TBI can lead to a dysfunction in the regulation of the enzyme BACE1. Elevations of this enzyme cause elevated levels of amyloid-beta, the key component of brain plaques associated with senility and Alzheimer’s disease.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 1.7 million people sustain a TBI each year. Concussions, the mildest form of a TBI, account for about 75% of all TBIs. Studies have linked repeated head trauma to brain disease and some previous studies have linked single events of brain trauma to brain disease, such as Alzheimer’s. Alzheimer’s disease currently affects as many as 5.1 million Americans and is the most common cause of dementia in adults age 65 and over.
As interest in sports injuries and head trauma rises following the NIH’s examination of Junior Seau’s brain, Dr. Tesco is available to discuss her research in the area of brain trauma and Alzheimer’s Disease.