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Protein explanation for trauma and dementia link

Wed 01 Aug 2018

Traumatic brain injury and dementia link explored further in new research

Research published in the journal Brain has found further evidence to link traumatic brain injury (TBI) with dementia, suggesting that a single trauma can generate an abnormal form of a protein associated with dementia.

Tau proteins occur naturally in the brain, but can become defective. According to the researchers from the Mario Negri Institute for Pharmacological Research of Milan and the University of Glasgow, it is the presence of an abnormal form of this protein that links TBI with dementia. 

"As part of this study we analysed brain specimens from patients surviving a year or more after a single, severe traumatic brain injury," said Dr Willie Stewart, Honorary Clinical Association Professor, Institute of Neuroscience and Psychology, University of Glasgow. 

"In this material we saw evidence of much more widespread deposits of abnormal tau proteins in brain injured patients than in normal control brains."

Dr Elisa Zanier, who led the Mario Negri Institute team with Dr Roberto Chiesa, added: "Traumatic brain injury is a leading cause of death and disability in young adults.

"Moreover, even in milder cases, it represents a risk factor for dementia, such as chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE). 

"Understanding the mechanism linking an acute mechanical event to a progressive, degenerative brain disease would help the development of new therapies."

This latest study has been published in the Oxford Academic Journal of Neurology Brain and follows a similar study earlier this year. 

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