Alzheimer’s and Concussion-Related CTE May Spread in the Brain Via Common Mechanism

Research is First to Suggest That Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy is a Prion Disease

By Pete Farley (UCSF News Center) on December 02, 2016

A shared biological mechanism may drive the progression of both Alzheimer’s disease (AD) and chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), a neurodegenerative condition associated with repeated concussions and brain trauma, according to a new study led by UC San Francisco scientists.

Both AD and CTE are classified as “tauopathies,” a category of diseases characterized by the improper folding and clumping together of a protein called tau (rhymes with “how”) inside the nerve cells of the brain. The resulting tau aggregates, known as neurofibrillary tangles, are toxic to neurons and are thought to be responsible for the behavioral changes and cognitive decline seen in both disorders.

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