Brain concussion and Alzheimer's disease linked


A history of concussion involving at least a momentary loss of consciousness may be related to the buildup of Alzheimer’s disease-associated plaques in the brain. Concussions may be related to Alzheimer’s.

Plaques are linked to dementia

“Interestingly, in people with a history of concussion, a difference in the amount of brain plaques was found only in those with memory and thinking problems, not in those who were cognitively normal,” explained study author Michelle Mielke, PhD, Mayo Clinic.

18% higher amyloid plaque levels in those with memory loss and brain trauma

People from Olmsted Country in Minnesota were given brain scans. The group included 448 people without any signs of memory problem and 141 people who had mild cognitive impairment. All participants were 70 years old or older. They were asked whether they had ever had a brain injury that included a loss of consciousness or loss of memory. For the group without memory problems, 17% reported a brain injury in the past. The group with memory loss experienced almost the same amount of concussion at 18%. When brain scans were considered, for the no memory loss group, there was no difference in the scans between people who had and did not have brain injury. However, for the those people who were experiencing memory loss, there was significant levels of amyloid plaques in the group that had reported brain injury. They were an average of 18% higher than those with no past head trauma.

The link is there, but complex

“Our results add merit to the idea that concussion and Alzheimer’s disease brain pathology may be related,” noted Mielke. “However, the fact that we did not find a relationship in those without memory and thinking problems suggests that any association between head trauma and amyloid is complex.”

Source: MedicalNewsToday, Neurology

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