Are Some People More Susceptible to CTE?
Susceptibility marker and genetic resistance markers. Glymphatics and sleep. Dr. Ann McKee explains the biology that may lower resistance to CTE
Susceptibility markers and genetic resistance
markers. We’ve got some information. We’re working on that. The genetics of it are likely to be complicated. It’s not going to be a single gene that
says oh you shouldn’t play football, but it’s probably many genes. There’s some early evidence that it’s
some of the genes that regulate inflammation. We’re learning that inflammation is a key
component to this disease. So some individuals have a difference in the
way they react to the injury and they have more inflammation, and that may make them
potentially more susceptible. We’re also looking at genes that regulate
sensitivity or susceptibility to Alzheimer’s, and we’re seeing some minor overlaps. It’s not as strong as it is in Alzheimer’s. We’re also looking at the clearance system. The brain actually at night clears abnormal
proteins. Part of a clearance system called the glymphatics. It sort of drains all the bad stuff out of
your brain. It’s most active when you’re sleeping,
which is a reason to get a lot of sleep at night. And we think it’s altered in people with
CTE. So, these are clues to not only why people
get it, but how we can maybe attack it therapeutically. So we’re looking at that. And that’s, again, for another day. We’re not quite there yet. But things we’re also looking at are like
things like when the person starts to play football. And we have done some early work on looking at professional football players who start before the age of 12 playing tackle and comparing them to individuals who start after the age of 12. And what we’re finding is the pathology
is not different between those two groups, surprisingly because we thought the pathology might be different. But we are seeing that the ones who start
earlier, develop symptoms earlier. So it seems to lower their resistance to the
pathology. They become symptomatic a decade earlier or 13 years earlier than their counterparts. They don’t have as much resilience. For whatever reason their what we call “cognitive reserve” is lower. And we also know that people that have high
occupational attainment, meaning they use their brain, they stay involved in mental
activities. If you compare those with people who have
high occupational attainment, educational attainment, to those who play tackle football
and don’t have that same level of education and occupation. The low level of occupational attainment is
associated with earlier onset of clinical symptoms. So another thing that lowers your resistance
to disease. This video was produced by BrainLine thanks to generous support from the Infinite Hero Foundation.
Posted on BrainLine January 4, 2019.
Ann McKee, MD is the chief neuropathologist for the Framingham Heart Study and the Boston University-based Centenarian Study. She is also the chief neuropathologist for the Boston-based Veterans Administration Medical Centers and for the Sports Legacy Institute.