Emerging advances of in vivo detection of chronic traumatic encephalopathy and traumatic brain injury

Julian D. Dallmeier, Somayeh Meysami, David A. Merrill, Cyrus A. Raji

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

9 Scopus citations


Chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) is a neurodegenerative disorder that is of epidemic proportions in contact sports athletes and is linked to subconcussive and concussive repetitive head impacts (RHI). Although postmortem analysis is currently the only confirmatory method to diagnose CTE, there has been progress in early detection techniques of fluid biomarkers as well as in advanced neuroimaging techniques. Specifically, promising new methods of diffusion MRI and radionucleotide PET scans could aid in the early detection of CTE. The authors examine early detection methods focusing on various neuroimaging techniques. Advances in structural and diffusion MRI have demonstrated the ability to measure volumetric and white matter abnormalities associated with CTE. Recent studies using radionucleotides such as flortaucipir and 18F-FDDNP have shown binding patterns that are consistent with the four stages of neurofibrillary tangle (NFT) distribution postmortem. Additional research undertakings focusing on fMRI, MR spectroscopy, susceptibility-weighted imaging, and singlephoton emission CT are also discussed as are advanced MRI methods such as diffusiontensor imaging and arterial spin labeled. Neuroimaging is fast becoming a key instrument in early detection and could prove essential for CTE quantification. This review explores a global approach to in vivo early detection. Limited data of in vivo CTE biomarkers with postmortem confirmation are available. While some data exist, they are limited by selection bias. It is unlikely that a single test will be sufficient to properly diagnosis and distinguish CTE from other neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer disease or Frontotemporal Dementia. However, with a combination of fluid biomarkers, neuroimaging, and genetic testing, early detection may become possible.

Original languageEnglish
Article number20180925
JournalBritish Journal of Radiology
Issue number1101
StatePublished - 2019


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