A new study shows that traumatic brain injury causes Alzheimer’s plaques. Specifically, brain injured patients exhibit plaques similar to those seen in Alzheimer’s patients. Injuries ranging from workplace accidents to sports were examined in middle age patients who had experienced an injury within the past two years. The study originally published in Neurology found plaques in those with traumatic brain injury similar to those in Alzheimer’s. In these patients, the plaques were found in the posterior cingulate cortex a frontal and temporal lobe processing center for higher order and emotional information. While the study had a small sample size, the conclusion may encourage other studies to examine the trajectory of traumatic brain injury.
Take home message:
Traumatic brain injury causes brain inflammation, while the brain is trying to heal itself. Some cells are damaged and the inflammation can also harm neighboring brain cells.
Brain inflammation has already been shown to be linked to mood disorders like anxiety and depression.
Inflammation is also implicated in Alzheimer’s disease as are accumulations of plaques in the brain.
Plaques may be a sign of unhealthy or damaged neurons (not just aged ones) unable to remove its own waste or function as they should. This accumulation of plaques interferes with neuronal communication. The waste interferes with propagation of the electrical impulses and maintenance of the neuronal synapse. If signaling is reduced in the synapse then cells with lose contact with each other.