Study: Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy and Biomarkers

A study in Molecular Neurodegeneration presented an overview of the potential for recognizing chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) while the person is still alive.

It is incorrect to say that CTE can only be diagnosed after somebody has died. The study reviewed the literature dating back to 1928, the first time the term CTE was used. But the more tools we have available to assist the diagnosticians, the earlier we will be able to help those who neuro decline is otherwise a mystery.  

Researchers have recently identified a biomarker that can indicate CTE by measuring the serum levels of the neuronal microtubules associated with the tau protein. This has the potential to shed light on the true prevalence of CTE.

Neuroimaging in CTE holds promise in identifying the biomarker that is associated with chronic head trauma. It should be used with comprehensive history and thorough clinical diagnostic evaluation in life. Longitudinal studies are needed to define the biological and clinical biomarkers associated with CTE.

Identifying the genetic markers in adolescents which pose a risk of CTE may require decades of research but will still be vital to the body of knowledge surrounding this condition. Studies of TBI and CTE, including laboratory models and human clinical trials, must also be accelerated.

The research will have implications in the real world for informing people of the risk involved in contact sports, such as boxing and football, and joining the military. These areas of work have high risk of developing CTE.  We believe that administrators of contact sports need to disclose the risk of CTE to its participants before they decide to get on board. One might also ask whether the risk of head injury and CTE should be discussed with military recruits before they enlist.

Some of the adjustment issues associated with having a traumatic brain injury can be alleviated if sufficient resources are allocated to the medical, sports, and military sectors. With CTE being in the news lately, it is a good time for research to become devoted to the disease and treatment.  


Gordon Johnson

Attorney Gordon Johnson is one of the nations leading brain injury advocates. He is Past-Chair of the TBILG, a national group of more than 150 brain injury advocates. He has spoken at numerous brain injury seminars and is the author of some of the most read brain injury web pages on the internet.

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