The Mysteries of CTE

Dr. Jim Kelly on what we know and don't know about chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE).

CTE is a real issue. We don’t really pretend to understand it fully. Dr. Ann McKey and Dr. Dan Pearl and many others around the nation that are neuropathologists have contributed hugely to our understanding of the tau protein and the pathology related to that. What is causing it, why it is it ends up in the parts of the brain where it registers and so forth and why it affects certain people is a big mystery still. And one of the things that we don’t understand fully is what’s the effect of that whole tau pathology in people who don’t have traumatic brain injury. So a lot of the research that is going on that we hear about out of Boston and elsewhere is basically the numerator of the equation. We don’t know what the denominator is. There are not large societal studies that come to brain biopsy or autopsy and so forth that tell us that and we still don’t have adequate neuroimaging scanners that can detect it in a failsafe and reliable way, at least not right now. We’re getting closer, but I think we need to look at what is the true incidence across the nation, and I might have it for all I know and I don’t have any long history of multi concussions and so forth. But there certain are tau pathologies known in other parts of the world more so than here and associated with certain neurodegenerative conditions such as Alzheimer’s. There are pieces of that that actually merge under the circumstances that have to do with tau. And so we really have a lot to learn and it’s going to take a concerted effort again to look at that in a societal large scale way.
Posted on BrainLine February 14, 2019.