News | PET Imaging | August 24, 2018

Abnormal Protein Concentrations Found in Brains of Military Personnel With Suspected CTE

Military personnel show brain changes similar to those seen in retired football players with suspected CTE on PET scans

Abnormal Protein Concentrations Found in Brains of Military Personnel With Suspected CTE

Researchers are using the tracer, which is injected into a patient, then seen with a PET scan, to see if it is possible to diagnose chronic traumatic encephalopathy in living patients. In this image, warmer colors indicate a higher concentration of the tracer, which binds to abnormal proteins in the brain. Credit UCLA Health.

August 24, 2018 — In a small study of military personnel who had suffered head trauma and had reported memory and mood problems, researchers found brain changes similar to those seen in retired football players with suspected chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE).

CTE occurs in people who have had multiple head injuries. Recent studies and headlines have focused on former football players who exhibited symptoms such as depression, confusion and mood swings. In later stages, CTE can lead to symptoms of Alzheimer's disease and other forms of dementia. Currently, CTE can only be diagnosed after death, when examination of brain tissue reveals clumps of a protein called tau, which kills brain cells.

To aid in diagnosing CTE in living individuals, researchers at the University of California Los Angeles (UCLA) are studying a molecular tracer, called FDDNP, which binds with tau as well as another abnormal protein called amyloid. The tracer, given intravenously, shows up in positron emission tomography (PET) brain scans, pointing to the location and extent of abnormal proteins in the brain.

Previously, UCLA researchers used the tracer to study the brains of 15 former National Football League (NFL) players with memory and mood problems. In that study, the pattern of abnormal protein distribution in living patients was consistent with the tau distribution seen in autopsy-confirmed CTE cases.

For the current study, which builds upon the earlier research, seven military personnel (five veterans and two in active duty) who had suffered mild traumatic brain injuries and had memory or mood complaints underwent neuropsychiatric evaluations. They had brain scans after being injected with FDDNP, the molecular tracer. The results were compared to those of the 15 previously studied football players, as well as 24 people with Alzheimer's dementia and 28 people without cognitive problems, for comparison.

The location and quantity of the tracer in the brains of the military personnel were similar to that seen in retired football players and distinct from the distribution patterns seen in people with Alzheimer's disease or in healthy individuals.

Larger studies using FDDNP and brain scans in people at risk for chronic traumatic encephalopathy are needed to confirm the usefulness of FDDNP as a diagnostic tool. The ability to diagnose CTE in living individuals would help scientists observe the progression of the disease, develop treatments and quantify the scope of CTE among different populations, such as military veterans.

Gary Small, M.D., a professor of psychiatry and biobehavioral sciences at UCLA and director of the Longevity Center at UCLA's Semel Institute for Neuroscience and Human Behavior, is the study's senior author. The study appears in the July 17 Journal of Alzheimer's Disease.

For more information: www.j-alz.com

Reference

Small G.W., Chen S., Siddarth P., et al. FDDNP-PET Tau Brain Protein Binding Patterns in Military Personnel with Suspected Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy. Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease, Aug. 7, 2018. DOI: 10.3233/JAD-171152

Related Content

Machine Learning IDs Markers to Help Predict Alzheimer's

Neurologists use structural and diffusion magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) to identify changes in brain tissue (both gray and white matter) that are characteristic of Alzheimer's disease and other forms of dementia. The MRI images are analyzed using morphometry and tractography techniques, which detect changes in the shape and dimensions of the brain and in the tissue microstructure, respectively. In this example, the images show the normal brain of an elderly patient. Image courtesy of Jiook Cha.

News | Neuro Imaging | September 20, 2018
New research has shown a combination of two different modes of magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), computer-based...
Lightvision near-infrared fluorescence imaging system
News | Women's Health | September 11, 2018
Shimadzu Corp.
The Siemens Biograph Vision PET-CT system was released in mid-2018.

The Siemens Biograph Vision PET-CT system was released in mid-2018.

Feature | Nuclear Imaging | September 07, 2018 | By Dave Fornell
Nuclear imaging technology for both single photon emission computed tomography (SPECT) and positron emission tomography...
PET Imaging Agent Predicts Brain Tau Pathology, Alzheimer's Diagnosis
News | PET Imaging | September 05, 2018
Eli Lilly and Co. and Avid Radiopharmaceuticals Inc. announced a Phase 3 study of positron emission tomography (PET)...
Check-Cap Announces Interim Results of European Study of C-Scan System Version 3
News | Colonoscopy Systems | September 04, 2018
Check-Cap Ltd. announced the interim results for its post-CE approval study of the C-Scan system Version 3, an...
Brain Iron Levels May Predict Multiple Sclerosis Disabilities
News | Neuro Imaging | August 31, 2018
A new, highly accurate magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) technique can monitor iron levels in the brains of multiple...
Study Finds Multiple Sclerosis Drug Slows Brain Shrinkage

An NIH-funded clinical trial suggested that the anti-inflammatory drug ibudilast may slow brain shrinkage caused by progressive MS. Image courtesy of Robert J. Fox, M.D., Cleveland Clinic.

News | Neuro Imaging | August 30, 2018
August 30, 2018 — Results from a clinical...
Rapid Cardiac MRI Technique May Cut Costs, Boost Care in Developing World
News | Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) | August 29, 2018
A newly developed rapid imaging protocol quickly and cheaply diagnosed heart ailments in patients in Peru, according to...
iSchemaView RAPID Technology Now Installed in More Than 500 Stroke Centers
News | Neuro Imaging | August 27, 2018
iSchemaView announced that more than 575 stroke centers in 22 countries have selected the RAPID advanced imaging...
Brain Study of 62,454 Scans Identifies Drives of Brain Aging
News | SPECT Imaging | August 27, 2018
In the largest known brain imaging study, scientists from five institutions evaluated 62,454 brain single photon...