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Brain Injuries Up Alzheimer's Disease Risk

Update Date: Nov 11, 2013 06:38 PM EST

Brain injuries may put people at risk of Alzheimer's disease, according to a new study.

Researchers found that patients with traumatic brain injury had increased deposits of β-Amyloid plaques, a hallmark of Alzheimer Disease (AD), in some areas of their brains.

Researchers said these increased deposits of harmful plaques might be caused by epidemiological or pathophysiological links between traumatic brain injury and Alzheimer Disease. Researchers note that Aβ plaques are found in as many as 30 percent of patients who die in the acute phase after a traumatic brain injury.

Researchers said the plaques appear within hours of the injury and can occur in people of all ages.

The study involved imaging of brain tissue acquired during autopsies to examine Aβ deposition in patients with traumatic brain injury. Investigators performed positron emission tomography (PET) imaging using carbon 11-labeled Pittsburgh Compound B ([ 11 C]PIB), a marker of brain amyloid deposition, in 15 participants with a TBI and 11 healthy patients. Researchers said that autopsy-acquired brain tissue was obtained from 16 people who had a traumatic brain injury, as well as seven patients with a non-neurological cause of death.

The findings revealed that patients with brain injuries had more [ 11 C]PIB binding, which may be a marker of Aβ plaque in some areas of the brain.

"The use of ([ 11 C]PIB PET for amyloid imaging following TBI provides us with the potential for understanding the pathophysiology of TBI, for characterizing the mechanistic drivers of disease progression or suboptimal recovery in the subacute phase of TBI, for identifying patients at high risk of accelerated AD, and for evaluating the potential of antiamyloid therapies," researchers concluded in the study.

The findings are published in the journal JAMA Neurology.

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