Long-term inflammation in the brain could be the culprit behind neuropsychiatric problems and brain damage that follow traumatic brain injury.
That’s the theory discussed by Alan Faden, MD, a neurologist and professor of anesthesiology, and David Loane, PhD, an assistant professor of anesthesiology, in a perspective article published in Neurotherapeutics. The authors claim that this long-term inflammation could be linked to brain atrophy, despression, and cognitive decline in people that have suffered brain damage and mild traumatic brain injury.
The authors also said that there is too much emphasis placed on chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), a diagnosis that has been made in several former professional football players. CTE is rare, and may distract from other mechanisms that are actually causing the symptoms, they said, noting that repeated concussions and mild traumatic brain injury can trigger chronic inflammation that can cause long lasting damage.
The article is a follow-up to two recent studies published by Faden, in which he examined the mechanisms that cause cognitive and psychiatric problems in animal models of traumatic brain injury.
"These studies show how repeated mild injuries can lead to the same kinds of injuries that occur after a single moderate or severe traumatic brain injury," said Faden. "The brain inflammation and loss of brain cells look remarkably similar in both cases. Now that we understand more about the mechanism behind the damage, we can develop strategies to prevent or minimize the problems."
The authors noted that some experimental drugs as well as controlled exercise programs may block the brain inflammation caused by traumatic brain injury, and encouraged researchers to pursue these potential treatment and prevention strategies.
A new paper by researchers at the University of Maryland School of Medicine (UM SOM) argues that there is a widespread misunderstanding about the true nature of traumatic brain injury and how it causes chronic degenerative problems.
In a perspective article published in the latest issue of Neurotherapeutics, the two authors – Alan Faden, MD, a neurologist and professor of anesthesiology, and David Loane, PhD, an assistant professor of anesthesiology, propose that chronic brain damage and neuropsychiatric problems after trauma are to a large degree caused by long-term inflammation in the brain.