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      Dementia Pugilistica Revisited

      a , * ,   b
      Journal of Alzheimer's Disease
      IOS Press
      Boxing, dementia pugilistica, neurofibrillary degeneration, tauopathy

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           Extensive exposure of boxers to neurotrauma in the early 20th century led to the so-called punch drunk syndrome, which was formally recognized in the medical literature in 1928. “Punch drunk” terminology was replaced by the less derisive ‘dementia pugilistica’ in 1937. In the early case material, the diagnosis of dementia pugilistica required neurological deficits, including slurring dysarthria, ataxia, pyramidal signs, extrapyramidal signs, memory impairment, and personality changes, although the specific clinical substrate has assumed lesser importance in recent years with a shift in focus on molecular pathogenesis. The postmortem neuropathology of dementia pugilistica has also evolved substantially over the past 90 years, from suspected concussion-related hemorrhages to diverse structural and neurofibrillary changes to geographic tauopathy. Progressive neurodegenerative tauopathy is among the prevailing theories for disease pathogenesis currently, although this may be overly simplistic. Careful examination of historical cases reveals both misdiagnoses and a likelihood that dementia pugilistica at that time was caused by cumulative structural brain injury. More recent neuropathological studies indicate subclinical and possibly static tauopathy in some athletes and non-athletes. Indeed, it is unclear from the literature whether retired boxers reach the inflection point that tends toward progressive neurodegeneration in the manner of Alzheimer’s disease due to boxing. Even among historical cases with extreme levels of exposure, progressive disease was exceptional.

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          Most cited references48

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          Immunization with amyloid-beta attenuates Alzheimer-disease-like pathology in the PDAPP mouse.

          Amyloid-beta peptide (Abeta) seems to have a central role in the neuropathology of Alzheimer's disease (AD). Familial forms of the disease have been linked to mutations in the amyloid precursor protein (APP) and the presenilin genes. Disease-linked mutations in these genes result in increased production of the 42-amino-acid form of the peptide (Abeta42), which is the predominant form found in the amyloid plaques of Alzheimer's disease. The PDAPP transgenic mouse, which overexpresses mutant human APP (in which the amino acid at position 717 is phenylalanine instead of the normal valine), progressively develops many of the neuropathological hallmarks of Alzheimer's disease in an age- and brain-region-dependent manner. In the present study, transgenic animals were immunized with Abeta42, either before the onset of AD-type neuropathologies (at 6 weeks of age) or at an older age (11 months), when amyloid-beta deposition and several of the subsequent neuropathological changes were well established. We report that immunization of the young animals essentially prevented the development of beta-amyloid-plaque formation, neuritic dystrophy and astrogliosis. Treatment of the older animals also markedly reduced the extent and progression of these AD-like neuropathologies. Our results raise the possibility that immunization with amyloid-beta may be effective in preventing and treating Alzheimer's disease.
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            Tau prions from Alzheimer's disease and chronic traumatic encephalopathy patients propagate in cultured cells.

            Tau prions are thought to aggregate in the central nervous system, resulting in neurodegeneration. Among the tauopathies, Alzheimer's disease (AD) is the most common, whereas argyrophilic grain disease (AGD), corticobasal degeneration (CBD), chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), Pick's disease (PiD), and progressive supranuclear palsy (PSP) are less prevalent. Brain extracts from deceased individuals with PiD, a neurodegenerative disorder characterized by three-repeat (3R) tau prions, were used to infect HEK293T cells expressing 3R tau fused to yellow fluorescent protein (YFP). Extracts from AGD, CBD, and PSP patient samples, which contain four-repeat (4R) tau prions, were transmitted to HEK293 cells expressing 4R tau fused to YFP. These studies demonstrated that prion propagation in HEK cells requires isoform pairing between the infecting prion and the recipient substrate. Interestingly, tau aggregates in AD and CTE, containing both 3R and 4R isoforms, were unable to robustly infect either 3R- or 4R-expressing cells. However, AD and CTE prions were able to replicate in HEK293T cells expressing both 3R and 4R tau. Unexpectedly, increasing the level of 4R isoform expression alone supported the propagation of both AD and CTE prions. These results allowed us to determine the levels of tau prions in AD and CTE brain extracts.
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              Chronic Repetitive Mild Traumatic Brain Injury Results in Reduced Cerebral Blood Flow, Axonal Injury, Gliosis, and Increased T-Tau and Tau Oligomers.

              Exposure to repetitive mild traumatic brain injury (mTBI) is a risk factor for chronic traumatic encephalopathy, which is characterized by patchy deposition of hyperphosphorylated tau aggregates in neurons and astrocytes at the depths of cortical sulci. We developed an mTBI paradigm to explore effects of repetitive concussive-type injury over several months in mice with a human tau genetic background (hTau). Two injuries were induced in the hTau mice weekly over a period of 3 or 4 months and the effects were compared with those in noninjured sham animals. Behavioral and in vivo measures and detailed neuropathological assessments were conducted 6 months after the first injury. Our data confirm impairment in cerebral blood flow and white matter damage. This was accompanied by a 2-fold increase in total tau levels and mild increases in tau oligomers/conformers and pTau (Thr231) species in brain gray matter. There was no evidence of neurofibrillary/astroglial tangles, neuropil threads, or perivascular foci of tau immunoreactivity. There were neurobehavioral deficits (ie, disinhibition and impaired cognitive performance) in the mTBI animals. These data support the relevance of this new mTBI injury model for studying the consequences of chronic repetitive mTBI in humans, and the role of tau in TBI.

                Author and article information

                Role: Handling Editor
                J Alzheimers Dis
                J. Alzheimers Dis
                Journal of Alzheimer's Disease
                IOS Press (Nieuwe Hemweg 6B, 1013 BG Amsterdam, The Netherlands )
                8 October 2017
                7 November 2017
                : 60
                : 4
                : 1209-1221
                [a ]Center for Neuropathology, Western Michigan University School of Medicine , Kalamazoo, MI, USA
                [b ]College of Sciences, University of Texas , San Antonio, San Antonio, TX, USA
                Author notes
                [* ]Correspondence to: Rudy J. Castellani, MD, 300 Portage Street, Kalamazoo, MI 49007, USA. Tel.: +1 269 337 6173; Fax: +1 844 337 6001; E-mail: rudolph.castellani@ 123456med.wmich.edu .
                © 2017 – IOS Press and the authors. All rights reserved

                This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial (CC BY-NC 4.0) License, which permits unrestricted non-commercial use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


                boxing,dementia pugilistica,neurofibrillary degeneration,tauopathy


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