The Devastating Effect of Sports-Related Brain Injury

American football has been in the news lately.  Unfortunately, so has chronic traumatic encephalopathy.

CTE is a progressive and degenerative brain disease.  It was originally found in boxing, where participants are subject to repetitive head injuries.  But CTE has increasingly been diagnosed in athletes from other contact sports, including Ken Stabler (football), Chris Benoit (wrestling), Bob Probert (hockey) and Ryan Freel (baseball).  There is speculation that military personnel may also be at risk.

CTE causes parts of the brain to atrophy, lose mass or become enlarged.  It also causes the accumulation of tau, an abnormal protein that interferes with normal brain function.  CTE can affect memory, judgment and impulse control.  Other symptoms include confusion, aggression, depression and dementia.  Currently, the condition can only be diagnosed after the death of the patient.

Researchers are working to better understand CTE, its risks, prevention, diagnosis and treatment.  British researchers conducted a comprehensive study of the relationship between traumatic brain injury and CTE.  Pennsylvania researchers studied brain injury and repair from blast-induced trauma such as military combat.

Australian researchers found elevated brain levels of iron, copper and zinc in patients with traumatic brain injuries.  Mayo Clinic researchers investigated ways to slow or block the unhealthy accumulation of tau.  And in a multi-year study, a Boston University team is analyzing 300 deceased subjects to develop a gold standard for diagnosing CTE.

Agilent has provided funding and materials for CTE research.  Equipment used in CTE research includes the Agilent ICP-MS, LC columns, QuikChange mutagenesis kit and Dako advanced staining solutions.


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