Indexed on: 28 Sep '16Published on: 28 Sep '16Published in: Translational Psychiatry
Chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) is a neurodegenerative disorder most commonly associated with repetitive traumatic brain injury (TBI) and characterized by the presence of neurofibrillary tangles of tau protein, known as a tauopathy. Currently, the diagnosis of CTE can only be definitively established postmortem. However, a new positron emission tomography (PET) ligand, [(18)F]T807/AV1451, may provide the antemortem detection of tau aggregates, and thus various tauopathies, including CTE. Our goal was to examine [(18)F]T807/AV1451 retention in athletes with neuropsychiatric symptoms associated with a history of multiple concussions. Here we report a 39-year-old retired National Football League player who suffered 22 concussions and manifested progressive neuropsychiatric symptoms. Emotional lability and irritability were the chief complaints. Serial neuropsychological exams revealed a decline in executive functioning, processing speed and fine motor skills. Naming was below average but other cognitive functions were preserved. Structural analysis of longitudinally acquired magenetic resonance imaging scans revealed cortical thinning in the left frontal and lateral temporal areas, as well as volume loss in the basal ganglia. PET with [(18)F]florbetapir was negative for amyloidosis. The [(18)F]T807/AV1451 PET showed multifocal areas of retention at the cortical gray matter-white matter junction, a distribution considered pathognomonic for CTE. [(18)F]T807/AV1451 standard uptake value (SUV) analysis showed increased uptake (SUVr⩾1.1) in bilateral cingulate, occipital, and orbitofrontal cortices, and several temporal areas. Although definitive identification of the neuropathological underpinnings basis for [(18)F]T807/AV1451 retention requires postmortem correlation, our data suggest that [(18)F]T807/AV1451 tauopathy imaging may be a promising tool to detect and diagnose CTE-related tauopathy in living subjects.